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Into The Wild Blue Yonder

The last of the F-15 Eagles leave the Montana Air National Guard headed for Fresno, California. National Guard photo / Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson

The last of the F-15 Eagles leave the Montana Air National Guard headed for Fresno, California. National Guard photo / Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson

Great Falls, Mont. -- The 120th Fighter Wing ramp sat empty of aircraft as three F-15 Eagle fighter jets flew in tight formation over the Montana Air National Guard base Oct. 24.
This was the final mission unit pilots would fly as members of a fighter wing, as they were bound for Fresno, Calif. to complete the transfer of fighter aircraft to the California Air National Guard.
Earlier that morning, unit members conducted the final sweep of the ramp to remove rocks and any other material that could potentially cause foreign object damage to the F-15 engines.
The aircraft were then carefully prepared for flight by maintenance crews, ensuring that the aircraft would be delivered to the 144th Fighter Wing in top shape.
Lt. Col. Anthony Brim, Maj. Matthew Ohman and Maj. Lee Bouma carried their flight equipment out to the ramp, escorted by family members to witness their last unit mission flown in an F-15 airframe.
Unit personnel and retirees also gathered on base to watch the as the last three fighter aircraft taxied to the end of the runway for the final flight preparation and takeoff.
One-by-one each fighter jet went from a virtual standstill at the end of the runway to rolling extremely fast to attain the fighter jet's needed takeoff speed. The audience appreciated hearing the loud familiar roar of the F-15 engines as each aircraft quickly lifted up from the pavement and gained altitude.
Once all aircraft were airborne, the three fighters assembled into a basic "V" formation and flew one last ceremonial flight over the 120th Fighter Wing's airfield.
The 120th Fighter Wing's aircraft and personnel spent over 66 years of service to the nation flying fighter aircraft. The fighter unit flew numerous legendary aircraft during its rich history, including the F-51 Mustang, F-86 Sabre, F-89 Scorpion, F-102 Delta Dagger, F-106 Delta Dart, F-16 Fighting Falcon and the F-15 Eagle.
The unit's personnel are now focused on training for their new C-130 Hercules air transport mission. The first C-130 is scheduled to arrive at the 120th Fighter Wing early next year.
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