Phantom Rising

Members of the 82nd Aerial Target Squadron at Tyndall AB, Fla., have begun flying F-4 Phantoms to tow the banners that pilots shoot at during aerial gunnery training. “This is just another way the venerable Phantom continues to serve the Air Force nearly 50 years after it began service,” said Lt. Col. Gregory Blount, 82nd ATRS director of operations. The F-4s are replacing Navy-managed Lear jets in this role. “Due to costs, the Navy contract for use of the Lear jets was being cut, and we had no other way to accomplish this training. The F-4 was the perfect platform to tow the banner and ensure we kept [pilots’] aerial gunnery proficiency,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Luchsinger, 82nd ATRS boss. Squadron officials said using the F-4s is a cost-effective way of supporting this training. (Tyndall report by SrA. Kirsten Wicke)