Happy Friday, FighterSweep Fans! Since it’s the end of yet another very productive day, we wanted to send you into your weekend with this image sizzling in your minds. Jonathan Derden captured this stunning shot of a Block 40 F-16CM from one of our favorite groups of Viper Drivers, the “Flying Fiends!”

This photograph was taken at Eielson Air Force Base out side of Fairbanks, Alaska, during a Red Flag exercise in 2012. Here we have the Flying Fiends jet in full grunt, blazing away from the ground with a loadout of CATM (Captive Air Training Missile) AIM-9X and AIM-120 AMRAAMs, as well as the ACMI pod to record the fight from this particular pilot’s perspective.

Red Flag-Alaska is a very robust exercise, and features some of the best airspace to go out and fight in. The Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) has 65,000 square miles of useable airspace, so you can stage a heck of a complex “war” with that much room. Since it’s a pretty rare thing for the PACAF units to get stateside for Red Flag at Nellis, more often than not they wind up at Eielson for exercises.

We have some exciting projects with the Flying Fiends coming up, giving all of you an inside look at life inside the squadron at their home station of Osan Air Base in the Republic of Korea.

The 36th is a tremendously skilled bunch with a strong corps of experienced pilots (Bøurne, Atari, Soju, et al), a scary-smart and experienced Director of Operations (Flint), and some fresh faces (Cowboy, Blitz) to round out the talent pool.

So stay tuned for all of that, but in the mean time, imagine basking in the glow of afterburner bliss, attempting to breathe in freedom’s thunder as your weekend activities beckon.


(Featured Photo by Jonathan Derden)