On Dec. 20, 1977, the wing began converting from the F-4 to the F-15. The transition was completed June 4, 1978.
History was made during February 1980, when two pilots from the 49th each flew their F-15s, 6,200 miles in just over 14 hours, establishing a record for the longest flight of a single-seat fighter aircraft. The flights required six aerial refuelings, proving the global power of the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing.
In July 1980, the wing acquired the commitment of a primary Rapid Deployment Force unit. This tasking, which lasted for a year, required the wing to be ready to deploy its aircraft, crews, and support personnel on short notice. The wing served with the Rapid Deployment Force until July 1981, when the tasking was transferred to the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.
The 49th demonstrated its capabilities in the fall of 1988, winning top honors at the William Tell air-to-air weapons competition. The wing outdistanced the nearest competitor by more than 2,000 points. The 49th won a variety of awards, including the coveted “Top Gun” for best fighter pilot.
In 1992, the 49th underwent a number of transitions. The last F-15 departed Holloman June 5, 1992, ending 14 years of Eagle operations. On May 9, 1992, four F-117 stealth fighters from Tonopah Test Range, Nevada, arrived at Holloman. Also, F-4s returned to Holloman, as part of the 9th Fighter Squadron, in May 1992.
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