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The Final F-16s Leave the 174th Fighter Wing

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley receives a Safety Award from Lockheed Martin Aero Regional Representative Mr. Terry Wade and Lockheed Martin Northeast Regional Manager Mr. Mike McKinney commemorating the 70,000 plus flying hours accomplished by the 174th Fighter Wing during the 22 years that the unit has been flying the F-16. The Final two F-16's departed from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on Saturday, 6 March 2010.   (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley receives a Safety Award from Lockheed Martin Aero Regional Representative Mr. Terry Wade and Lockheed Martin Northeast Regional Manager Mr. Mike McKinney commemorating the 70,000 plus flying hours accomplished by the 174th Fighter Wing during the 22 years that the unit has been flying the F-16. The Final two F-16's departed from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on Saturday, 6 March 2010. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley speaks to the 174th Fighter Wing and assembled guests about the departure of the final two F-16's at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on Saturday, 6 March 2010.The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley speaks to the 174th Fighter Wing and assembled guests about the departure of the final two F-16's at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on Saturday, 6 March 2010.The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

U. S. Army Brigadier General Patrick A. Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York State speaks to the 174th Fighter Wing and the assembled crowd at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on Saturday, 6 March 2010.   Murphy was making his first visit to the 174th Fighter Wing as the TAG to witness the final departure ceremony of their last two F-16s. The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009.  (US Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/ Released)

U. S. Army Brigadier General Patrick A. Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York State speaks to the 174th Fighter Wing and the assembled crowd at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on Saturday, 6 March 2010. Murphy was making his first visit to the 174th Fighter Wing as the TAG to witness the final departure ceremony of their last two F-16s. The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/ Released)

U. S. Army Brigadier General Patrick A. Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York speaks to the 174th Fighter Wing and their family members at Hancock Field in Syracuse, NY on 6 March 2010.   Brig. Gen. Murphy attended the event for the 174th Fighter Wing’s final departure ceremony of their last two F-16s. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ricky Best/Released)

U. S. Army Brigadier General Patrick A. Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York speaks to the 174th Fighter Wing and their family members at Hancock Field in Syracuse, NY on 6 March 2010. Brig. Gen. Murphy attended the event for the 174th Fighter Wing’s final departure ceremony of their last two F-16s. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ricky Best/Released)

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley prepares for the final flight of the F-16 from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base as Crew Chief Staff Sgt. Preston J. Cox does a pre-flight walk around for the final time. The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley prepares for the final flight of the F-16 from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base as Crew Chief Staff Sgt. Preston J. Cox does a pre-flight walk around for the final time. The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley is assisted for the final time by his Crew Chief Staff Sgt. Preston J. Cox as Bradley prepares his wing jet for the final flight of the F-16 from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on Saturday, 6 March 2010.The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley is assisted for the final time by his Crew Chief Staff Sgt. Preston J. Cox as Bradley prepares his wing jet for the final flight of the F-16 from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on Saturday, 6 March 2010.The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley taxi's by saluting Crew Chiefs for the last time at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on Saturday, 6 March 2010. The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley taxi's by saluting Crew Chiefs for the last time at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on Saturday, 6 March 2010. The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley taxis past a saluting Chief Master Sgt. Darryl W. Nielsen and the rest of the 174th Fighter Wing family for the last time with the F-16. The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley taxis past a saluting Chief Master Sgt. Darryl W. Nielsen and the rest of the 174th Fighter Wing family for the last time with the F-16. The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley taxis past assembled  family, friends and distinguished visitors for the last time with the F-16 at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base. The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley taxis past assembled family, friends and distinguished visitors for the last time with the F-16 at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base. The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley taxis past assembled family, friends and distinguished visitors for the last time with the F-16 at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base. The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)
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174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley taxis past assembled family, friends and distinguished visitors for the last time with the F-16 at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base. The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley taxis past assembled family, friends and distinguished visitors for the last time with the F-16 at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base. The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)
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174th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin W. Bradley taxis past assembled family, friends and distinguished visitors for the last time with the F-16 at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base. The 174th Fighter Wing has converted to the MQ-9 Reaper and began flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt James N. Faso II/Released)

U.S. Air Force Colonel Kevin W. Bradley, Commander of the 174th Fighter Wing departs with the unit’s last F-16 at Hancock Field in Syracuse, New York on 6 March 2010.  The 174th Fighter Wing has converted from the F-16 Falcon to the MQ-9 Reaper flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ricky Best/Released)
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U.S. Air Force Colonel Kevin W. Bradley, Commander of the 174th Fighter Wing departs with the unit’s last F-16 at Hancock Field in Syracuse, New York on 6 March 2010. The 174th Fighter Wing has converted from the F-16 Falcon to the MQ-9 Reaper flying 24/7 operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 December 2009. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ricky Best/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Daniel N. Tester is flying one of the last two 174th Fighter Wing F-16s from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base to Wheeler- Sack Army Air Field, 174FW Forward Operating Location at Ft. Drum in Watertown, New York on 6 March 2010.  Tester was flying as Colonel Kevin W. Bradley‘s wingman on his “Fini” flight. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ricky Best/Released)
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U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Daniel N. Tester is flying one of the last two 174th Fighter Wing F-16s from Hancock Field Air National Guard Base to Wheeler- Sack Army Air Field, 174FW Forward Operating Location at Ft. Drum in Watertown, New York on 6 March 2010. Tester was flying as Colonel Kevin W. Bradley‘s wingman on his “Fini” flight. (US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ricky Best/Released)

U.S. Air Force Colonel Anthony B.  Basile and Lieutenant Colonel Daniel N. Tester help celebrate the final flight of Colonel Kevin W. Bradley, Commander of the 174th Fighter Wing at Wheeler- Sack Army Air Field, 174FW Forward Operating Location at Ft. Drum in Watertown, New York on 6 March 2010.  Colonel Bradley flew his wing jet, the last F-16, off the airfield at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on Saturday, 6 March 2010.   (US photo by SSgt Ricky Best/Released)
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U.S. Air Force Colonel Anthony B. Basile and Lieutenant Colonel Daniel N. Tester help celebrate the final flight of Colonel Kevin W. Bradley, Commander of the 174th Fighter Wing at Wheeler- Sack Army Air Field, 174FW Forward Operating Location at Ft. Drum in Watertown, New York on 6 March 2010. Colonel Bradley flew his wing jet, the last F-16, off the airfield at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base on Saturday, 6 March 2010. (US photo by SSgt Ricky Best/Released)

Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, NY -- The 174th Fighter Wing concluded its F-16 operations on Saturday March 6, 2010 with a formal ceremony that was attended by the new Adjutant General for New York State.

Brig Gen. Patrick A. Murphy, NY-TAG joined 174FW Wing Commander Col Kevin W. Bradley on stage to speak to assembled group about the final F-16 flyoff from Hancock Field.

Murphy said, "Today should not be a moment of sadness as I have spoken to Air Force and Air National Guard Leaders about the dwindling piloted aircraft. Thanks to your leadership this unit is one of the most if not the most current unit in the Air National Guard with these Unmanned Aerial Vehicles".

The 2,000 or so folks gathered in the main hangar witnessed the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base Honor Guard present colors followed by some words from Murphy, Bradley, Congressman Dan Maffei and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney. Immediately following the speeches Bradley stepped form the stage and made his last walk out to his jet.

Bradley said, "The F-16 has been an outstanding aircraft for the unit, but it is just a machine. It has been the airmen of the 174th Fighter Wing that has made up this mission since 1988 and will continue to do so into the future".

While Bradley made his way to the flightline to join his wingman for the final F-16 flight in unit history, Lt. Col. Dan Tester, the assembled group witnessed the cutting of the F-16 farewell cake. This was immediately followed by a rousing F-16 sendoff video that was produced by the 174FW Visual Information Office.

At approximately 3:15 the distinctive roar of the F-16 was heard as Tester was the first to takeoff, followed moments later by Bradley. They made three passes over the facility, including a pass over the assembled group who has spilled onto the ramp area outside the hangar.

As the final two F-16s roared off the airfield assembled unit members, alumni, dignitaries, family and friends gather outside of the hangar to witness this moment in history that ended the era of piloted aircraft for the 174th Fighter Wing.

After Bradley and Tester completed their final pass overhead they headed north to the 174FW Forward Operating Location on Wheeler-Sack Army Air Field located at Ft. Drum. The airspace over WSAAF has served as the training space for the 174FW for many years as well as other aircraft from all over the Northeast. It will continue to be utilized by other units for their training requirements as well as the unit's new MQ-9 mission in the future.

When Bradley and Tester landed they were greeted by family, friends and unit members who congratulated them on their final flight, as well as their part in the end of an era.

The 174FW has been flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon since 1988 and jet aircraft for more than 60 years, so this was definitely a bittersweet moment for the unit.