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In the early hours of the morning of January 13, the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan is bursting with activity. Crew chiefs, support units and flyers are also busy making sure everything will go without a glitch in order to achieve the 10,000 flying-hour milestone of F-15E Strike Eagle #89-0487.
F-15E Strike Eagle #89-0487, nicknamed “487”, entered the service on 13 November 1990. Despite being younger than many F-15A or F-15C models, it is the first F-15 of any type to reach the 10,000 benchmark. The aircraft has served the country zealously being a veteran of numerous operations like Desert Storm, Deliberate Guard, Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom.
This monumental achievement is shared by the entire 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. The 455th EAMXS includes the 335th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit and supporting units. For more than 21 years, over 1 million hours of inspection and repair had been performed by qualified maintenance technicians to ensure that the F-15E Strike Eagle 487 is ready and capable to do its assignment. The current crew chief all agree that good maintenance and support was essential for the “487” to gain this distinction. As the squadron’s flagship aircraft, the F-15E Strike Eagle 487 is a testament of the caliber of the former and current crew who maintains, supports and flies it. This milestone is a total team effort.
As a tribute to history, Lt. Col. David Moeller, the 335th Expeditionary Flying Squadron commander chose Capt. Ryan Bodenheimer, a 335th F-15E EFS pilot, and Capt. Erin Short, a 335th EFS weapons systems officer for the honor of flying the F-15E for its 10,000th flying-hour. “It just seemed appropriate that the longest flying F-15E be flown by the youngest flyers in the unit,” he said.
The F-15E Strike Eagle #89-0487 also has the sole distinction of being aircraft of its model to record an air-to-air kill.