Exhilaration filled the air as Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild soared above the city May 3 in an F-16 Fighting Falcon piloted by Col. Phil Purcell, commander of the 162nd Wing.
“It was a blast,” said Rothschild as he recounted his wild ride. “The aircraft has amazing capability.”
Rothschild visited the wing Saturday to meet Arizona Air Guardsmen and prepare for his orientation flight.
“I’m here at the Air National Guard base today to learn more about the mission and the base, and get a better appreciation for what goes on here,” he said.
Rothschild, a Tucson native, has spent most of his life watching the wing and its mission grow, but never dreamed he would experience it from inside a cockpit.
“It’s a huge community asset,” he said, speaking of the wing. “Every time I visit I gain a greater appreciation for the work being done here.”
Purcell said, “We always enjoy having the Mayor visit our wing and we’re pleased to give him the opportunity for a flight. A strong community partnership is important to us and the continued success of our global missions.”
Rothschild spent his morning with personnel from the aircrew flight equipment office for pre-flight preparations and training. After donning his flight suit and lacing his boots, Maj. Collin Coatney, 162nd director of staff, presented the mayor with honorary name and unit patches adding an array of color to the sage green flight suit.
“It was great to have the Mayor come out and get a taste of what we do here at the 162nd,” said Coatney.
Pre-flight preparations included training in a mock cockpit and on a parachute simulator to learn the various equipment functions and safety procedures.
Tech. Sgt. Kristopher Joyce, a member of the aircrew flight equipment team and Rothschild’s lead instructor throughout the morning, recounted his F-16 flight experience as he helped Rothschild maneuver the simulated parachute during training.
“You’re going to see the city of Tucson from a whole new light,” said Joyce.