An unforgettable flight in an unforgettable place: Tech. Sgt. Wesley Walker’s F-16 ride over Australia
By Tech. Sgt. Steven Doty, 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 24, 2017
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE BASE WILLIAMTOWN, New South Wales, Australia --
Aircraft tail number 375 of a very specific F-16 Fighting Falcon will be something U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Wesley Walker, 354th Maintenance Squadron aircraft munitions systems specialist, will never forget.
Prior to the 18th Aggressor Squadron completing their final sortie in Exercise Diamond Shield, Walker was offered an opportunity to observe the mission of training and preparing Royal Australian Air Force fighter combat instructors, airspace battle managers, fighter intelligence instructors and fighter combat controllers of the RAAF Air Warfare Centre Instructors Course from a perspective he’s never seen before; from 30,000 feet in the air.
Typically, Walker is responsible for working with some of the most advanced weapons in the world by assembling and processing nonnuclear munitions. Working with a high level of attention to detail and extreme care, professionals like Walker handle, store, transport, arm and disarm weapons systems to ensure the safety of our Airmen and the success of our missions.
So after working tirelessly for weeks to sustain the fleet of F-16 fighter jets throughout their intensive training schedule, he was now able to see how the ‘Red Air’ 18th Aggressor pilots simulated weapons capabilities against their ‘Blue Air’ AWIC F-18 Hornet targets.
“It was a pretty amazing experience to see the results of what our maintainers do,” said Walker. “And what better time and place than during a training exercise over Australia.”
His host pilot for this special flight, U.S. Air Force Maj. Shawn McGoffin, 354 Fighter Wing deputy inspector general and F-16 pilot, who coincidently identifies by his call sign, “Coach”, was just as excited to show him the process of completing a sortie; everything from mission planning to donning the flight equipment, to flight maneuvers and demonstrating the capabilities of the F-16 against ‘Blue Air’.
“Wes did well for being in a new and more challenging environment than what he’s used to,” said McGoffin. “I was happy to show him the fruits of his labor while we were up there training the RAAF pilots of the AWIC.”
Although the 18th Aggressor Squadron pilots will leave an incredible impression upon the students of the RAAF AWIC, there are few impressions as lasting as the one left on Walker…as evident by the smile he couldn't seem to shake as he walked away from 375.