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Check Six – 1982: Greg Gardner’s Fini Flight

May 3, 2021

Gregory B. Gardner flew F-4C Phantoms with the 199th Fighter Squadron from November 1978 through December 1982. He served as a instructor pilot in the later years of his assignment. The squadron named Greg the Outstanding Fighter Pilot in 1982.

These two undated photographs are from his fini flight. The first shows Greg with his weapons system officer (WSO) W. Carl Gallegos. The shows the then-154th Composite Group commander, Col John “Saigon” Lee offering his congratulations.

Greg left for the first of several assignments with the Air National Guard in Washington, D.C. In 1997, he became the commander of the 184th Bomb Wing (ANG), McConnell AFB, Kansas. In February 1999, Kansas Governor William Graves appointed as the Adjutant General. He retired in October 2003.

Maj Gen Gregory B. Gardner biography

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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