2,000 hours in flight

by Airman 1st Class Erin R. Babis
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/26/2016 – ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England — The 493rd Fighter Squadron commander, Lt. Col. John Stratton, earned his 2,000 flying hours patch Feb. 26.

Lt. Col. John Stratton, 493rd Fighter Squadron commander, center, poses with Col. Robert Novotny, 48th Fighter Wing commander, left, and Col. David Eaglin, 48th FW vice commander, after earning his 2,000-hour flying patch in the F-15C Eagle at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Feb. 26, 2016. More than 30 friends, family members and fellow Airmen gathered to celebrate Stratton’s achievement. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin R. Babis)

Lt. Col. John Stratton, 493rd Fighter Squadron commander, center, poses with Col. Robert Novotny, 48th Fighter Wing commander, left, and Col. David Eaglin, 48th FW vice commander, after earning his 2,000-hour flying patch in the F-15C Eagle at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, Feb. 26, 2016. More than 30 friends, family members and fellow Airmen gathered to celebrate Stratton’s achievement. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Erin R. Babis)


A crowd of more than 30 of Stratton’s friends, family members and fellow Airmen from the 48th Fighter Wing gathered as he pulled up to the protective aircraft shelter in his F-15C Eagle.

“My first flight in the F-15C Eagle was on Aug. 4, 1999,” Stratton remarked, asking that no one tell him how old they were back then. “Therefore, it’s taken almost 17 years to reach this milestone.”

As his wife, Tara, headed out to the PAS to greet her husband, she echoed his sentiment of the amount of time it has taken to accomplish 2,000 flying hours.

“I’m excited for him,” Tara said. “He’s been working toward this for a long time now.”

Col. Robert Novotny, 48th Fighter Wing commander, who has known Stratton for a while, presented him with the 2,000-hour flying patch. Stratton saw Novotny earn his 2,000-hour flying patch when they were stationed together in the 67th Fighter Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

“We first met when he was assistant director of operations,” Novotny explained. “We were in the same squadron together, and I was the commander. Now, to see him leading the 493rd, it’s been really cool to see his success over his career. 2,000 hours! That’s a lot of flying in the F-15C. The sorties are short, and so that’s a lot of experience. It doesn’t happen as much as it used to. It’s really cool to see people get their 2,000-hour patches.”

“I am honored to have my wing commander, who has earned 2,000 hours in the Eagle, to put my 2,000-hour patch on as a squadron commander,” Stratton said.

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