June 17, 2016 (by JBER PA) - A Japan Air Self-Defense Force C-130H loadmaster achieved 10,000 flying hours during a RED FLAG-Alaska 16-2 flight on June 15, 2016.
USAF & JASDF airmen pose for a celebratory photo for CMSgt. Takanori Konishi, with the 401st Squadron, 1st Tactical Airlift Wing after he completed the milestone of 10,000 C-130 Hercules flight hours on June 15, 2016, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. A rare milestone, Konishi has spent a little over 416 days flying in the C-130. [USAF photo by SrA James Richardson]
As his C-130 taxied into its parking spot following the mission, JASDF Chief Master Sgt. Takanori Konishi emerged from the aircraft’s top hatch and threw his arms in the air to the cheers of Japanese and U.S. personnel who were on hand to help him celebrate.
While not unprecedented, the milestone is considered incredibly rare by military aviators. The chief has spent more than one year and 51 days in the air during the course of his
Konishi stepped off the aircraft for one of the final times in his career and was met with buckets of ice water and a shower of champagne, as is custom among aviators achieving significant career milestones. The loadmaster raised his head to the sky, opened his arms and soaked it all in, literally.
“I feel so good,” Konishi said. “This is amazing. I want to thank everyone who made my career and this event possible.”
While the achievement is a rare one, it was made even more unique for the chief to be able to hit the coveted 10,000-hours mark in U.S. airspace during an international exercise. “I love Alaska,” the loadmaster said. “This is my fifth time coming here, and it’s special every time.”
RF-Alaska is a Pacific Air Forces commander-directed field training exercise for U.S. and international forces, which provides joint offensive counter-air, interdiction, close air support, and large-force employment training in a simulated combat environment.
“It is a large-force employment exercise,” said Lt. Col. Dennis Lincoln, 354th Operations Group Detachment 1 commander. “Our goal is to stress aircrew in a safe environment to simulate those first 10 combat sorties so the aviators are better prepared if they’re called upon to go to war or some other contingency.
“As we integrate more of these Pacific partners into these exercises, it helps us gain that U.S. presence throughout the whole Pacific area of responsibility and enhance our international partners’ capability in that region as well.”
Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Day, 354th OG superintendent, presented Konishi with a patch for his flight suit that read, “10,000.” The chief bowed as an expression of gratitude and was all smiles as several more gifts were presented from the crowd, including a commemorative banner signed by everyone in attendance.
“10,000 hours is a huge milestone in a flying career,” Lincoln said. “The chief hitting 10,000 hours in a C-130 is significant for him and everyone who flies that airframe. Having it happen during our exercise shows the relationship we have with our coalition partners.”
As the chief from the land of the rising sun stared into the mountain ranges in the land of the midnight sun, he took a moment to reflect.
“The flying part of my career started 27 years ago,” Konishi said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. I’m 53 years old … that’s very old,” he added with a chuckle. “I retire in a few months, and it’s scary. It’s been a privilege and honor to fly.”