388th Fighter Wing commander takes his final ride

  • Published
  • By Nathan Simmons
  • 388th Fighter Wing
Col. Lance Landrum took his final ride in an F-16 as the 388th Fighter Wing Commander here June 16.

388 FW personnel, family and friends came out to celebrate Landrum's "fini" flight - an Air Force tradition presumably dating back to the U.S. Army Air Force days of the World War II era.

Fini flights 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.

(Information provided by Mark Howell, 100th Air Refueling Wing historian, and Billy Harris, U.S. Air Forces in Europe command historian)