On a scorching afternoon in the skies over Luke Air Force Base, one F- 16 pilot reached a milestone few can claim in their careers.
Maj. Frank Bricel, 69th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations, reached his 3,000th flying hour Aug. 31 after 18 years of flying.
Bricel grew up in an Air Force family, and after watching and listening to the F-4s and F-105s on the base where his father was stationed, he knew by the 4th grade what he wanted to be when he grew up – a fighter pilot.
“It was the only career path I focused on,” he said. “I went through Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at Southern Illinois (University) and received my pilot’s slot at the end of my freshman year. Needless to say, my career was focused toward that goal.”
Bricel began his pilot training at Vance Air Force Base, Okla., and has been at Luke AFB since 1996. He spent three years active duty, got out and spent the next five years flying for a commercial airline. He joined the Reserve in 2004 and has been flying with them ever since. He is a full-time reservist in the 69th FS but flies out of the 62nd FS.
His most memorable mission was supporting Marines against Syrian freedom fighters in 2005 near the Iraq and Syrian border.
“I was tasked to destroy the enemy that was shooting at the Marines and did so with one joint direct attack munition and one laser-guided bomb,” Bricel said. “Both bombs were direct hits and the mission was a huge success.”
Bricel’s accomplishment does not go unnoticed in the close-knit pilot community.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment – only 233 F-16 pilots have ever reached that honor,” said Lt. Col. Bob Whitehouse, 69th FS commander. “It typifies the professionalism, airmanship and experience that Bricel and the 69th FS bring to the total force integration at Luke.”
Bricel credits his success to the support of his father, retired Senior Master Sgt. Frank Bricel.