The Hawai‘i Air National Guard's 199th Fighter Squadron bid a fond aloha ‘oe the last three McDonnell-Douglas F-15C Eagles today. Flying as "Zesty97", the three fighters (seen above taxiing on Taxiway M) departed for the US mainland accompanied by a HI ANG KC-135R from the 203rd ARS, "Adobe47".
78-0509 (top), 78-0522, and 78-0528 departed the "Reef Runway" for the last time under partly cloudy Hawaiian skies. Ground crew, other HI ANG pilots, the media, and social media lined up along Taxiway RG as the fighters took off one by one with afterburners lit. 57-1508 (above) followed a few minutes after to replenish the three Eagles 5.5 hour flight across the Pacific.
While the HI ANG pilots are undergoing F-22A training, the 120th FW of the Montana ANG is assuming the air defense role for Hawai‘i, until there are enough F-22As in the 199th's hands.
A couple of dozen 199th FS's pilots and ground crew came out to witness the departure, and bid farewell to the three Eagles. They're watching 78-0528 begin it's "Hang Ten" climb over the channel to Ke‘ehi Lagoon.
HNL RareBirds extends a warm mahalo to Pacific Air Forces, the Hawai‘i Air National Guard, the 154th Wing, and the 199th Fighter Sqaudron for your service to our country and state, plus allowing us to attend today's momentous and bittersweet event.