After 63 years, the fire department of the Illinois Air National Guard’s 183rd Fighter Wing officially is no more. Springfield’s State Journal-Register reported that the firefighters finished their final shift on Sept. 30 at Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport. “We hate to leave,” said Mike Evans, one of the firefighters on the last shift. “The base was great, and the job was great. It’s a sad day for us.” The wing lost its F-16 flying mission in 2008 courtesy of BRAC 2005, but was able to retain 16 full-time firefighters. Their primary function was to respond to aircraft emergencies; however, they also provided emergency fire and rescue service to the airport. The Illinois Air Guard’s Peoria-based 182nd Airlift Wing has taken on several of the firefighters, according to the newspaper.
While the Air Force is keeping a seemingly optimistic outlook about the future of its MH-139 Grey Wolf fleet, despite problems receiving FAA certification, another of the service’s helicopter programs is being prematurely curtailed—and officials are already considering what might come next.