“Epic” Accomplishment

The Iraqi Air Force on July 13 reached the milestone of having flown 2,000 hours of training sorties only nine months after its training wing began instructional operations at Kirkuk Regional Air Base. “To go from zero to 2,000 hours in under nine months is an epic accomplishment,” said Lt. Col. Mark Bennett, commander of the 52nd Expeditionary Flying Training Squadron that is helping the Iraqis build up their training capacity at Kirkuk. “The risk associated with the Iraqi pilots and student pilots is significant, which makes this accomplishment even more astounding.” The Iraqi Air Force accomplished the milestone with no mishaps, and the 27 students in the squadron have flown more than 70 solo sorties combined. The Iraqi trainees fly in Cessna airplanes. On July 9, the Iraqis took ownership from the US of eight Cessna 172 and three larger, more advanced Cessna Caravan 208 aircraft that will be used at Kirkuk. (Includes Kirkuk report by TSgt. Jeff Walston)