HILL AIR FORCE BASE -- In perfect sunny weather, Col. Rick LeBlanc was greeted by family, friends and members of Team Hill to celebrate his final F-16 flight June 19 before stepping down as the 388th Fighter Wing vice commander.
"It feels great, and I'm so grateful for the outpour of wing and Team Hill support today," said LeBlanc as he celebrated with the group after deplaning.
The "fini flight" concluded with two base fire trucks creating a ceremonial water arch as the jet taxied back to the parking spot. After deplaning, LeBlanc was promptly soaked by members of the awaiting group with a hose and bottles of sparkling cider.
LeBlanc became the wing's Vice Commander in September 2010 and assumed command of the 388th Range Squadron on Tuesday. The squadron operates and maintains the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) providing daily training, large force training exercises, and large footprint weapons testing.
The UTTR provides the largest overland safety footprint available in the Department of Defense for aircrew training and weapons testing.
The test range supports training customers with capabilities for air-to-ground, air-to-air and ground force exercises.
Following pilot training in 1989, LeBlanc served one assignment in the A-10 at Myrtle Beach AFB, S.C. before transitioning to the F-16. Throughout his career, he's accumulated more than 3,000 flying hours in the A-10, F-16, AT-38 and T-38C and served in various squadron, wing and headquarters Air Force positions.
Ultimately, LeBlanc said that as he departs as the vice commander, he leaves with the knowledge that the 388th FW will continue to thrive.
"This is such a great wing, an important wing to our nation's defense, and I'm privileged to have served as the vice commander with the world's finest Airmen for nearly two years," he said.
The 'fini flight' was just one of several special events marking the end of the colonel's vice command of the 388th FW.
Members of the wing, base and local community bid him farewell at a dinner in his honor on Monday, and his assumption of command ceremony as the 388th Range Squadron commander was held Tuesday.