On Jan. 20, the Delaware Air National Guard reached another flying milestone when the unit surpassed 170,000 accident-free flying hours without a Class A, B or C flying mishap since 1963.


On Jan. 20, the Delaware Air National Guard reached another flying milestone when the unit surpassed 170,000 accident-free flying hours without a Class A, B or C flying mishap since 1963.

The milestone covers the 47-year period when the unit has flown three models of aircraft – the C-97, the C-130A, and today the C-130H model transport aircraft, and has performed nearly 20 continuous years of flying in Southwest Asia with significant periods of combat flying in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.

The 166th Airlift Wing has eight C-130 transport aircraft flying from home station in New Castle. Six of those aircraft with more than 200 unit Airmen will depart Delaware the first half of March for a combat deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“Achieving this notable flying milestone is a tribute to the inspired work of hundreds and hundreds of unit Airmen who keep our aircraft well maintained, combined with aircrew who expertly navigate and fly our aircraft," said Col. Jonathan H. Groff, commander of the 166th Airlift Wing. "For over five decades our people have successfully carried forward the attitude towards safety so profoundly believed in and expertly communicated by retired Brig. Gen. William V. Spruance, our top leader from a half century ago who passed away last month.

“We’ve been extremely busy completing a number of inspections this winter and now preparing for an upcoming large deployment to Afghanistan. For several months Delaware citizens from New Castle south to Middletown have witnessed a lot of daytime and evening flying from our C-130 aircraft as our aircrews complete mandatory proficiency training. This training is essential before we enter the combat zone in March when six of our aircraft will be on duty over the skies of Afghanistan.”

Previous accident-free flying milestones at 10,000 hour increments, starting at 100,000 hours, by year, are:

160,000 hours - 2007 150,000 hours - 2004 140,000 hours - 2001 130,000 hours - 1998 120,000 hours - 1995 110,000 hours - 1992 100,000 hours - 1990

The Delaware ANG has 1,100 members, and continually deploys personnel and subordinate units around the globe.