JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Just days before assuming command of the newly activated 249th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Lt. Col. Luke Sustman became the first Air Force pilot to amass 3,000 flight hours in the CV-22 Osprey.
Sustman crossed the 3,000-hour mark during his flight from Hurlburt Field east of Pensacola to the 125th Fighter Wing in Jacksonville.
“It was really sentimental since it was also my first flight to the wing,” he said. “Throughout my eight deployments with over 450 combat hours, this particular sortie to see our teammates in Jacksonville is something I’ll always cherish and remember.”
Sustman’s milestone achievement precedes the squadron’s historic activation, which is scheduled for later this month.
“To be the first ever U.S. Air Force pilot active, reserve or Guard to hit over 3,000 hours in the CV-22 is a remarkable accomplishment,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Valle, assistant adjutant general – Air, Florida National Guard. “Lt. Col. Sustman will be in the history books and his legacy will forever be enshrined with this amazing feat. I couldn’t be prouder of Luke and his team at Hurlburt, and I’m so glad he’s on such a high performing team in the Florida Air National Guard.”
Sustman is a 19-year veteran who has flown the CV-22 since 2006, when he was selected to help stand up the first CV-22 combat squadron. Since then, he’s done tours at Hurlburt Field, Kirtland Air Force Base and Cannon Air Force Base.
“Nothing really compares to a CV-22. Going from 230 knots to a hover to landing in the middle of nowhere without a runway is amazing,” he said. “The flying is great, but I find that the experiences and people I’ve had the opportunity to work with have made it the most rewarding.”
Sustman takes the helm of the squadron with a vision to maintain expertise, readiness and relevance across the CV-22 community, and most importantly, to ensure every Airman leaves the squadron in a better place than when they arrived.
“There are young pilots and flight engineers who will spend their entire career in CV-22s and hopefully far surpass the 3,000-hour mark,” he said. “My hope is to create an environment where they will feel supported and equipped with the knowledge to fully thrive and reach their highest potential.”
The Florida National Guard Headquarters’ Detachment 2 activated in 2015 to support the 1st Special Operation’s Wing mission to rapidly plan, execute and sustain specialized air power. Since then, the squadron has executed large-scale multilateral exercises comprised of hundreds of Special Operations Forces (SOF) personnel and billions of dollars in assets, and participated in multiple named operations, including more than 750 combat flight hours in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in the Central Command area of operation.