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Check Six – 2006: Dusty’s Fini Flight

October 19, 2020

Lt Col Kenneth “Dusty” Sussel had his “Fini Flight” on December 31, 2006. The Fini Flight is a tradition for pilots that originated during the Vietnam era (more below). 

Personal photograph – used with permission

Lt Col Kenneth “Dusty” Sussel had his “Fini Flight” on December 31, 2006. The Fini Flight is a tradition for pilots that originated during the Vietnam era (more below). In the photograph are (L-R):

Back Roll: Saw, Ginger, Magoo, Buckshot, Ehu, Jag, Chewy

Front Roll: Narco, Odie, Mongo, Sumo, Dusty, Grinder, Zoomba, Frenchy, Dude, Chucker, Buddha, Stuck (with his son)

Kneeling: Knockers, Kazi, Tojo, Cujo, Mute

In an email, Dusty mention he a about two years before he can retire from Hawaiian Air, and join the retiree ranks

Special Thanks to Dusty and Mongo for the ID help.


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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