It flies in the family
By Senior Airman Sean Sweeney, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 07, 2018
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- An Air Force major walks down the flight line of Canon Air Force Base, New Mexico, making his way toward his F-16CJ Fighting Falcon, aircraft 90830. As he climbs into the cockpit of the jet affectionately known as the Viper, he mentally prepares himself for the mission ahead.
After the canopy lowers, his dedicated crew chief, Staff Sgt. Daniel Henderson, marshals him out, renders a salute and watches the Falcon taxi away.
“I got the F-16 out of pilot training and, at the time, it was fairly new,” said retired Air Force Col. Rick Davis. “It was neat because there were a lot of assignments we could get with all of the older Vietnam era aircraft, but I worked hard and wanted the F-16 so bad. I was thrilled when I got it.”
Rick flew four different airframes throughout his service, but holds one near and dear to his heart.
“The F-16 was my favorite plane that I flew, the block 50 in particular,” said Rick. “I just loved it. It was a challenge and I just really enjoyed it.”
Many years later at Nellis AFB, Nevada, the same F-16 flown by then Maj. Rick Davis, found another Davis to pilot it: the retiree’s son, then 1st. Lt. Brian Davis.
Now a captain and 55th Fighter Squadron pilot, Brian said having the opportunity to fly his father’s old jet was an experience he would not trade for anything.
Along with having the opportunity to fly in the same bird, the son had the same tactical aircraft maintainer marshal him out.
“It was quite an honor,” said retired Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Henderson. “To have the honor of strapping two generations of, not just pilots, but family, in the same seat was amazing. It felt like I was passing on a legacy from one generation to another.”
Leaders assigned to the 55th FS decided to take this connection one step further when they appointed Brian his father’s old aircraft at Shaw AFB, South Carolina.
“I am honored that they would do that,” said Rick. “Seeing Brian’s name on (the jet) makes me really proud. I am happy to see it and I am glad they made it happen.”
Having someone’s name on the side of an F-16 is more than just vinyl on the side of an aircraft, but sharing that same jet with family is a very rare occurrence.
“It just makes it real,” said Brian. “When you go out to an aircraft and it is your aircraft with your name on it, it is a special feeling. Then you get your dedicated crew chief there and you form a good relationship and you know they gave you a safe jet. It is a good feeling.”
Having his name on the same F-16 his father flew is just one part of continuing his family’s legacy of defending freedom.
“The Wild Weasel and suppression of enemy air defense mission is incredible,” said Rick. “He didn’t know it, but his grandfather also flew the SEAD mission. They had just started that back in Vietnam with the F-100F (Super Sabre). It is kind of cool to keep it in the family with the (Wild Weasel) patch.”
Today, as aircraft 90830 lands at Shaw AFB and taxis back to its parking spot, a dedicated crew chief marshals the pilot and aircraft to a halt.
When the canopy rises and a pilot climbs out of the cockpit to greet his dedicated crew chief, this time it is Capt. Brian Davis.