Two pilot spouses from the 563rd Rescue Group completed their fini-flight at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., June 10, 2021.
Maj. James Corless, 355th Wing deputy director of wing plans and programs, piloted an HC-130J Combat King II while Maj. Heather Corless, 563rd RQG director of inspections, piloted an HH-60 Pave Hawk during a helicopter air-to-air refueling exercise over the Arizona desert.
“For both of us, this was a chance to finally fly in formation with each other,” James said. “Even though helicopter air to air refueling is a regular part of our training flights at Davis-Monthan, we still approached it professionally knowing that the hot summer weather would still provide plenty of challenges for both the HH-60 and HC-130.”
Heather and James have been assigned to the 563rd RQG since 2018 but this was the first time in eight years of flying for rescue that they have flown together.
“We tried multiple times while at Moody Air Force Base, but it just never worked out,” Heather said. “After having children, we had sort of accepted that it was going to be an unlikely occurrence due to the childcare complexity, but we are so grateful that our squadrons were willing to help us make the timing work before leaving Davis-Monthan.”
Afterwards, both Heather and James expressed their gratitude towards their squadrons, their wingmen and all of the behind the scenes staff for their support during this exercise.
“I am so thankful to my whole crew who gave me such a gift in allowing me the opportunity to make this sortie happen,” Heather said. “It takes so much teamwork, from the engineers who designed the aircraft to have this unique capability, to the maintainers who keep them up and running, to the instructors that train us and help us to grow and progress as aviators to be able to accomplish these sorts of efforts safely, effectively, and with relative joy. My gratitude for this opportunity is immeasurable, to both the 355th Wing team, and rescue as a whole.”
This was the final flight for both Heather and James before undergoing a permanent change of station and performing a staff tour at Air Combat Command headquarters in Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.
Fostering relationships is a priority of the 355th Wing. By fostering relationships and building trust with their respective squadrons and all of the staff that make the technical aspect of these exercises possible they were able to communicate and perform their mission more effectively, ensuring success.