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U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Dylan Discher, 54th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment apprentice, poses for a photo before a familiarization flight in an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a temporary duty assignment with the 8th Fighter Squadron, March 29, 2019 to April 12, 2019, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Discher said having regular interactions with the pilots and hearing their stories is his favorite part about working in AFE. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Dylan Discher, 54th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment apprentice, poses for a photo before a familiarization flight in an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a temporary duty assignment with the 8th Fighter Squadron, March 29, 2019 to April 12, 2019, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Discher said having regular interactions with the pilots and hearing their stories is his favorite part about working in AFE. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Air Force Airman Samantha Anderson, 54th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment apprentice, prepares for a familiarization flight in an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a temporary duty assignment with the 8th Fighter Squadron, March 29, 2019 to April 12, 2019, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Anderson said the FAM flight was invaluable to her AFE career, because she now knows exactly how fliers need to be fitted. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Air Force Airman Samantha Anderson, 54th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment apprentice, prepares for a familiarization flight in an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a temporary duty assignment with the 8th Fighter Squadron, March 29, 2019 to April 12, 2019, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Anderson said the FAM flight was invaluable to her AFE career, because she now knows exactly how fliers need to be fitted. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Air Force Airman Samantha Anderson, 54th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment apprentice, poses for a photo before a familiarization flight in an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a temporary duty assignment with the 8th Fighter Squadron, March 29, 2019 to April 12, 2019, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Anderson said she experienced the gravitational pull of six times her body weight during her FAM flight. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Air Force Airman Samantha Anderson, 54th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment apprentice, poses for a photo before a familiarization flight in an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a temporary duty assignment with the 8th Fighter Squadron, March 29, 2019 to April 12, 2019, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Anderson said she experienced the gravitational pull of six times her body weight during her FAM flight. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Air Force Senior 8th Fighter Squadron deployed on a temporary duty assignment, March 29, 2019 to April 12, 2019, to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Many personnel were given the opportunity to go on a FAM ride in the back of an F-16 D-model during the TDY. (Courtesy photo for Master Sgt. Ryan Gentry)

U.S. Air Force Senior 8th Fighter Squadron deployed on a temporary duty assignment, March 29, 2019 to April 12, 2019, to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Many personnel were given the opportunity to go on a FAM ride in the back of an F-16 D-model during the TDY. (Courtesy photo for Master Sgt. Ryan Gentry)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman George Rahe, 54th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment Airman, takes a selfie during a familiarization flight in an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a temporary duty assignment with the 8th Fighter Squadron, March 29, 2019 to April 12, 2019, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Many personnel were given the opportunity to go on a FAM ride in the back of an F-16 D-model during the TDY. (Courtesy photo by Senior Airman George Rahe)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt Ryan Gentry takes a selfie during a familiarization flight in an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a temporary duty assignment with the 8th Fighter Squadron, March 29, 2019 to April 12, 2019, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Many personnel were given the opportunity to go on a FAM ride in the back of an F-16 D-model during the TDY. (Courtesy photo by Master Sgt. Ryan Gentry)

U.S. Air Force Airman Samantha Anderson, 54th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment apprentice, tightens a screw on a pair of anti-gravity trousers, April 11, 2019, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Because of the gravitational forces the body experiences during a flight in a fighter jet, a special set of trousers, also called the 'G-suit,' must be fit and worn to regulate oxygen levels in the body. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

U.S. Air Force Airman Samantha Anderson, 54th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment apprentice, tightens a screw on a pair of anti-gravity trousers, April 11, 2019, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Because of the gravitational forces the body experiences during a flight in a fighter jet, a special set of trousers, also called the 'G-suit,' must be fit and worn to regulate oxygen levels in the body. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

U.S. Air Force Airman Samantha Anderson, 54th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment apprentice, reads a technical order, April 11, 2019, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. AFE spent over two weeks preparing the gear that was used during the temporary duty station. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

U.S. Air Force Airman Samantha Anderson, 54th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment apprentice, reads a technical order, April 11, 2019, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. AFE spent over two weeks preparing the gear that was used during the temporary duty station. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

8th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots step to their jets before a flight, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Holloman's 8th FS deployed on a temporary on a temporary duty assignment to Louisiana, and participated in training exercises, March 29, 2019 to April 12, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

8th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots step to their jets before a flight, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Holloman's 8th FS deployed on a temporary on a temporary duty assignment to Louisiana, and participated in training exercises, March 29, 2019 to April 12, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from Holloman's 8th Fighter Squadron, and F-15 Eagles from the Louisiana Guard National Guard's 159th Fighter Wing, taxi down the runway, April 10, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Pilots from the 8th FS participated in dissimilar aircraft training and close air support exercises with the Eagles from the 159th FW and joint terminal air controllers from the U.S. Army's 7th Special Forces Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from Holloman's 8th Fighter Squadron, and F-15 Eagles from the Louisiana Guard National Guard's 159th Fighter Wing, taxi down the runway, April 10, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Pilots from the 8th FS participated in dissimilar aircraft training and close air support exercises with the Eagles from the 159th FW and joint terminal air controllers from the U.S. Army's 7th Special Forces Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

An F-16 Fighting Falcon from Holloman's 8th Fighter Squadron, takes off down the runway, April 10, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Lt. Col. Mark Sletten, 8th FS commander, said the unit set up simulated combat scenarios so the student pilots could practice working as a team with another unit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)
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An F-16 Fighting Falcon from Holloman's 8th Fighter Squadron, takes off down the runway, April 10, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Lt. Col. Mark Sletten, 8th FS commander, said the unit set up simulated combat scenarios so the student pilots could practice working as a team with another unit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Nicholas Atkins, 8th Fighter Squadron F-16 Basic-Course student pilot, poses for a photo after a flight, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Flying over open water was one of the experiences the students had the opportunity to do while they were on  the temporary duty assignment to NAS JRB New Orleans. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)
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U.S. Air Force Capt. Nicholas Atkins, 8th Fighter Squadron F-16 Basic-Course student pilot, poses for a photo after a flight, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Flying over open water was one of the experiences the students had the opportunity to do while they were on the temporary duty assignment to NAS JRB New Orleans. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ryan Gentry salutes an F-16 pilot before a familiarization flight, April 9, 2019, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La., and participated in a training exercise, March 29 to April 12, 2019. Many personnel were given the opportunity to go on a FAM flight in the back of an F-16 D-model during the temporary duty assignment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)
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U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ryan Gentry salutes an F-16 pilot before a familiarization flight, April 9, 2019, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La., and participated in a training exercise, March 29 to April 12, 2019. Many personnel were given the opportunity to go on a FAM flight in the back of an F-16 D-model during the temporary duty assignment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

An F-15 Eagle from the Louisiana National Guard's 159th Fighter Wing takes off down the runway, April 10, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Lt. Col. Mark Sletten, 8th FS commander, said the unit set up simulated combat scenarios so the student pilots could practice working as a team with another unit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)
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An F-15 Eagle from the Louisiana National Guard's 159th Fighter Wing takes off down the runway, April 10, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Lt. Col. Mark Sletten, 8th FS commander, said the unit set up simulated combat scenarios so the student pilots could practice working as a team with another unit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

An 8th Fighter Squadron maintainer cleans the intake of an F-16 Fighting Falcon, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Lt. Col. Mark Sletten, 8th FS commander, said it was important to him to bring the entire squadron on the temporary duty assignment and train just as if they were going to fight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)
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An 8th Fighter Squadron maintainer cleans the intake of an F-16 Fighting Falcon, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Lt. Col. Mark Sletten, 8th FS commander, said it was important to him to bring the entire squadron on the temporary duty assignment and train just as if they were going to fight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

An 8th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon taxis down the runway, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. During the temporary duty assignment, Viper pilots participated in dissimilar aircraft training and close air support exercises. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)
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An 8th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon taxis down the runway, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. During the temporary duty assignment, Viper pilots participated in dissimilar aircraft training and close air support exercises. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

Holloman's 8th Fighter Squadron deployed on a temporary duty location to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La., and participated in a training exercise, March 29 to April 12, 2019. The 8th FS brought all the elements for a fully functioning squadron of 158 personnel and 15 F-16 s on this TDY, including eight F-16 Basic-Course student pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)
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Holloman's 8th Fighter Squadron deployed on a temporary duty location to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La., and participated in a training exercise, March 29 to April 12, 2019. The 8th FS brought all the elements for a fully functioning squadron of 158 personnel and 15 F-16 s on this TDY, including eight F-16 Basic-Course student pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Nathaniel Lightfoot, 8th Fighter Squadron F-16 Basic-Course instructor, prepares to take Tech. Sgt. Andrew Bean, 8th FS medical element operations section chief, on a familiarization flight, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. During the temporary duty assignment, many personnel were given the opportunity to go on a FAM flight in the back of an F-16 D-model. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)
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U.S. Air Force Maj. Nathaniel Lightfoot, 8th Fighter Squadron F-16 Basic-Course instructor, prepares to take Tech. Sgt. Andrew Bean, 8th FS medical element operations section chief, on a familiarization flight, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. During the temporary duty assignment, many personnel were given the opportunity to go on a FAM flight in the back of an F-16 D-model. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

8th Fighter Squadron maintainers prepare to load a bomb on an F-16 Fighting Falcon, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Of the 158 personnel that came on the temporary duty assignment, 106 were F-16 maintainers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)
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8th Fighter Squadron maintainers prepare to load a bomb on an F-16 Fighting Falcon, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Of the 158 personnel that came on the temporary duty assignment, 106 were F-16 maintainers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Robert Ritchie, 8th Fighter Squadron F-16 Basic-Course student pilot, begins an inspection after a flight, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. During the temporary duty assignment, the B-Course students completed their syllabus training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)
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U.S. Air Force Capt. Robert Ritchie, 8th Fighter Squadron F-16 Basic-Course student pilot, begins an inspection after a flight, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. During the temporary duty assignment, the B-Course students completed their syllabus training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

An 8th Fighter Squadron maintainer brings a ladder to an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Of the 158 personnel that came on the temporary duty assignment, 106 were F-16 maintainers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)
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An 8th Fighter Squadron maintainer brings a ladder to an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Of the 158 personnel that came on the temporary duty assignment, 106 were F-16 maintainers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

An 8th Fighter Squadron maintainer stands on an F-16 Fighting Falcon, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Of the 158 personnel that came on the temporary duty assignment, 106 were F-16 maintainers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)
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An 8th Fighter Squadron maintainer stands on an F-16 Fighting Falcon, April 9, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. Of the 158 personnel that came on the temporary duty assignment, 106 were F-16 maintainers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

The 8th Fighter Squadron poses for a group photo, April 10, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. No longer was the 8th FS in the high altitudes of the dry, brown desert of Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., but was now below sea level in the humid, deep south of Louisiana to conduct dissimilar aircraft training and close air support. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)
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The 8th Fighter Squadron poses for a group photo, April 10, 2019, on Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, La. No longer was the 8th FS in the high altitudes of the dry, brown desert of Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., but was now below sea level in the humid, deep south of Louisiana to conduct dissimilar aircraft training and close air support. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kindra Stewart)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

As the sun beamed down on the flightline, causing skin to burn and glisten, the warm moisture that lingered in the air felt as if you were being followed by an invisible force constantly exhaling on your face.

Burning jet fuel blurred the surrounding lush, green grass and vibrant wildflowers against the tail pipes of the F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-15 Eagles.

The distant ocean breeze when mixed with the strong gusts of jets soaring into the blue sky welcomed sweet relief to the members of the 8th Fighter Squadron.

No longer was the unit in the high altitudes of the dry, brown desert of Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, but was now below sea level in the humid, deep south of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, Louisiana.

Holloman’s 8th FS deployed on a temporary duty assignment to NAS JRB New Orleans and participated in a training exercise March 29 to April 12, 2019.

“One thing that was really important to me was to be able to bring the entire squadron and deploy just as if we were to go fight,” said Lt. Col. Mark Sletten, 8th FS commander.

The 8th FS brought all the elements for a fully functioning squadron of 158 personnel and 15 F-16s on this TDY, including eight F-16 Basic Course pilot students.

“Our B-Course students, learning to fly F-16s, have never deployed or gone TDY together as a squadron,” said Sletten. “It is a really unique opportunity for them to go to a new place, learn a bunch of new procedures and still be able to fight well and do what we are asking them to do via the syllabus.”

Students also had the opportunity to practice flying over open water, something new to them that they will see a lot of during their careers.

The Viper pilots participated in dissimilar aircraft training and close air support exercises with the F-15 Eagles from the Louisiana National Guard’s 159th Fighter Wing and joint terminal air controllers from the U.S. Army’s 7th Special Forces Group.

“We set up something we would see in combat, where our jets were working together as a team with another unit and then fighting them as a simulated enemy,” said Sletten. “We got a lot of sorties done and got all of the students through their syllabus training as well – a huge win for us.”

U.S. Army Capt. Austin Cross, 370th Ground Liaison Detachment officer on Holloman, said this TDY was a great training opportunity for both the ground and air forces, sharing airspace with the local units from different military branches.

While the training was an overall success, the weather played a huge part in contributing to flight delays and mechanical set-backs.

“One of the challenges we have seen here in New Orleans was the weather,” said Sletten. “The big storms made it to where we could not fly because of thunder and lightning. Unfortunately, when the rain gets into our avionics and systems, it creates electrical issues. It is really no fault to our maintainers, it just causes us to have some maintenance problems in terms on the jets not doing so well in the rain.”

But even with the complications that were faced because of the weather, Sletten said the morale on this TDY was at an all-time high.

 “Being able to go out and enjoy some of the fine things a big city (like New Orleans) has to offer has really brought the unit together,” said Sletten. “There have been a lot of smiles, and I have had several people come up to me and tell me this is the best TDY they have ever been on.”

When it comes to a fully functioning fighter squadron, each section is critical and has their own impact on the mission.

The members of 54th Operations Support Squadron’s Aircrew Flight Equipment spent over two weeks preparing the gear that would be used on this TDY, not only for the operational and student pilots, but for those who were selected for familiarization flights.

Because of the gravitational forces the body experiences during a flight in a fighter jet, a special set of trousers and mask must be worn to regulate oxygen levels in the body. Gear must be inspected and fit regularly.

 “I have always respected the pilots, but actually being in the cockpit and experiencing it for myself changed my entire perspective,” said Airman Samantha Anderson, 54th OSS AFE apprentice and selected FAM flier. “When I return to Holloman, I am going to take the extra time to fit the pilots and future FAM fliers the way I would want to be fitted, now that I know how it should feel when experiencing the G’s. No amount of reading my career development courses or technical orders could have prepared me enough for what it is like to be up there.”

Anderson’s excitement poured out of her words when describing how calm the world appeared on the outside of the cockpit, even when she was experiencing gravitational pulls six times her body weight – upside down!

“I feel extremely lucky,” said Anderson. “Not only to be on this TDY, but to be selected to go on a FAM flight. Both of these experiences were firsts for me, and I have only been in the Air Force less than one year. I am so blessed.”

Another FAM flyer had the ride of his life when he was read the Oath of Enlistment over the radio and re-enlisted in the back of the F-16.

“It is an experience that very few people will be able to say they have done,” said Staff Sgt. Cody Vaughan, 8th FS department of training’s non commissioned officer in charge. “I have never met another enlisted Airman who can say they re-enlisted in the back of an F-16, but I can.”

The 8th FS packed up and returned to Holloman, April 12, 2019.

Gathered together at the gate at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans National Airport, Louisiana, members of the 8th FS awaited the arrival of the first westbound airplane of the day. 

Sun-kissed and drained from the long days and nights they spent together, favorite moments of future memories were reciprocated between one another and laughter echoed throughout the terminal.