A-10 pilot reaches 3000 in the "Hawg"

  • Published
  • By Minty Knighton
  • Team Eglin Public Affairs
It's said the A-10 warthog is one of the most tenacious aircraft of this era, so it stands to reason it would have an equally tenacious pilot at the controls.

Pilot, Lt. Col. Drew "Baker" English, test director for the 59th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., and member of the 53rd Wing flew his 3,000th hour in the A-10C Thunderbolt II on March 26. 

Major Neal Sheeran, 59 TES project manager for A-10 who works with Colonel English said obtaining these hours in a single fighter takes a lot of time and a bit of luck.

"Flying hours available to fighter squadrons has gradually shrunk over the years and flying opportunities as you progress through the ranks of major to lieutenant colonel get smaller," said Major Sheeran. "Colonel English has been lucky in the sense that he has been flying the A-10 non-stop since the beginning. There are a lot of A-10 pilots that retire from the Air Force at the 20 year point (or later) that haven't accumulated 3000 hours."

Colonel English accomplished his 3000th sortie while on a force development mission flight to the Nevada Test and Training Range.

"I consider it a privilege that I've been able to fly this airplane non-stop for over 15 years," said Colonel English. 

The A-10 Thunderbolt II was the first Air Force aircraft designed for close air support to ground forces. Manufactured in the early 70's it has the capability for short takeoffs and landings and can withstand armor-piercing and high-explosive projectiles.

"No one could ever make the mistake of calling the A-10 fast or an example of sleek design, said Maj. Sheeran. "The A-10 tends to be treated as the little stepchild of the fighter community because of this, but we A-10 pilots wouldn't have it any other way. And if you were to ask folks from the Army that we support, I would bet they would agree."
Colonel English said the A-10 has changed significantly from his first sortie and he's fortunate to have been involved in bringing about those changes. 

The A-10 has seen its share of upgrades and new technologies over the years including data links, laser-guided and GPS-guided bombs, and advance targeting pods. It was designated as a "C" model in the 90's which added fire control systems, electronic countermeasures and the ability to carry smart bombs. Currently more modifications are being done to provide precision weapon capability. 

"The the nature of our nation's enemy has changed significantly over the last 20 years, said Maj Shareen. "It has become one of the most versatile fighter platforms in the Air Force. While the airplane is employed in combat much differently than it would have been during the Cold War, there are still aspects to being a Hawg driver that don't change, constantly trying to achieve excellence in the air to ground arena and being the finest Close Air Support pilots in the world."

Colonel English, a career operation test and instructor pilot, has had a vested interest in the A-10C Thunderbolt II since his first sortie June 24, 1993.
"His complete dedication to making the A-10 the best possible CAS platform, both for the A-10 community and the Air Force as a whole, is unmatched," said Maj. Shareen.

Colonel English's dedication to the A-10 warthog is more than a mission.

"I fly the A-10 to support the guys on the ground," said Colonel English. "My passion is the significant responsibility I have to ensure the entire A-10 community has the best equipment and the sound tactics to use that equipment."