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Spouses experience F-15 in action during “Spouse Taxi” event

  • Published
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore.  -- The 173rd Fighter Wing gave a number of spouses a unique opportunity to experience a backseat ride in the F-15 Eagle during a “Spouse Taxi” event, Sept. 28, 2023.

Although these aircraft did not ever get airborne during this event, they got as close as they could, accelerating down the runway until the nose rose into the air before raising the airbrake and dropping the front landing gear back to the ground. It’s a ride that showcases the acceleration of the Eagle and also all of the preflight required of the pilots and maintenance crews for a regular sortie.

The spouses gathered in the morning at the operations building, where they were greeted with coffee and pastries and were given ground egress training—yes, everyone who sits in the back seat of one of these aircraft must be ready in case of an ejection.  It’s an unlikely event, but flight safety requires that all eventualities are covered, and it serves to showcase the job aircrew flight equipment Airmen do every day for the wing.

Like everyone who steps into the cockpit, AFE fits each spouse with a custom-fit helmet, mask and harness, and then they are ready to step to the aircraft with the pilot.

“It was a mix of people being nervous and excited,” said Capt. Philip Chu, the project officer for the event. “To go sit in the jet and then go max AB (afterburner); it’s an experience many of them have never had.”

He went on to say that by the end of the day, “They were all smiling and happy!”

Which is a significant reason for the event. “Our goal is to let family members experience as close as they can to flying so that they more understand what it is we do out here,” said Chu, adding a big “thank you” for all of their support to our Airmen.

Setting up the project does require significant coordination both with Air Traffic Control and maintenance crews. The tower maintains control of the airfield and meshes the taxis with ongoing airport operation and air traffic control. Maintenance crews spin each jet up in the same way they do every other sortie leaving Kingsley Field, Chu explains.

Tanner Cox, wife of Staff Sgt. Jacob Cox, who works in the engine shop, summed up the experience saying later, “It was awesome!”