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Check Six: Kurt Johnson’s Fini Flight – 30+ years ago

July 31, 2018

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Col Kurt Johnson was a key member of the 199th Fighter Squadron and the Hawaii Air National Guard. He was a Korean War veteran, flying F-86 Sabres. In the HIANG, he flew F-86s, F-102 Delta Daggers, and F-4C Phantoms.

During his career, he designed many things that remain part of the 199th Fighter Squadron today. He designed the 199th Fighter Squadron logo. It remains the only squadron logo that is not in a circular shape. During the F-102 era, he designed the Hawaiian pattern tail flash that the HIANG still uses today. In the F-4C era, he gave each assigned aircraft the name of the Hawaiian bird. Kurt’s legacy will live on into the future.

Kurt’s son, Ro “Rojo” Johnson flew with the 199 FS for many years before his premature passing.


Fini Flight – A pilot’s last flight in the aircraft before he/she leaves a squadron, a wing, or retires.

“Fini” flights are the symbolic end of an aviator’s flying career. The final flight usually coincides with a retirement but sometimes the individual is moving to a non-flying position.  For the aviator, it is an emotional day shared with family, friends, and squadron mates.

It’s assumed that the tradition of fini flights came from the U.S. Army Air Force days of the World War II era.

They were designed to accompany milestones in the career of the entire aircrew, respected individuals of rank or repute, or a commander’s departure to another command or retirement.

The tradition was first officially noted in Vietnam, when the aircrew commemorated the completion of 100 missions. While the 100th safe last-landing was a reason to celebrate, it is now usually a separate flight altogether marking the final activity before departure.

The celebration has evolved and now includes champagne or similar, a toast and dowsing with water from a fire truck for the aircraft and aircrew. Usually, family or families of the departing aircrew or personnel also meet them on the hardstand and douse them with water.

From → History

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