By Darrell Todd Maurina
Clovis Mayor David Lansford will take flight on Tuesday, courtesy of the United States Air Force.
The mayor’s flight will be in a two-seater F-16 jet normally used for training purposes at Cannon Air Force Base but also used for orientation flights. The most recent mayor to receive an orientation flight on a Cannon plane was Trent Sisemore of Amarillo, whose flight was Dec. 29.
“These flights take place to enhance public understanding of the Air Force mission and aid recruiting efforts,” said Airman Brian Kane, Cannon’s new external media relations liaison. “Preparations include a medical exam, life support training, an overview of the mission, and safety briefings.”
Lansford said his pilot for the orientation flight will be Col. Robert Yates, the 27th Fighter Wing commander who will be leaving Friday for Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.
“I’ve got a good relationship with him and his wife,” Lansford said. “It’s the first time there’s been a commander at the base who’s my age. This is the first time one has not been older than me.”
While his own military experience is limited to a few years in the Texas State Guard while a student at Texas Tech, Lansford said he grew up admiring the military while living near Cannon.
“I grew up with Cannon Air Force Base as part of the community,” Lansford said. “I had several friends who were family members of people stationed at Cannon.”
This will be Lansford’s first flight in an F-16 and he said he’s looking forward to the experience.
“I’ve heard about the experience from a few other people and I’ve heard nothing but a description of amazement. I think it is certainly an opportunity of a lifetime,” Lansford said. “It’s obviously a treat that most people will never get to have and I feel very fortunate to get this experience.”
The base offers three types of orientation flights — distinguished visitor flights, familiarization flights, and incentive flights.
Incentive flights are the most common and are used to provide visible rewards for exceptional performance or service to the wing and serve to motivate others to similar levels of performance.
Policy at the 27th Fighter Wing is to award an incentive flight to wing annual award winners and individuals scoring 95 percent or more on a career development course; Cannon’s wing commander and group commanders also have the authority to award incentive flights for exceptional performance.
Lansford’s flight is granted under an Air Force regulation authorizing commanders to award flights to “U.S. citizens who, because of position and contacts with various public organizations, can make positive contributions to public understanding of the roles and missions of the Air Force.”
Kane said no future orientation flights have been scheduled.