Retiring fighter pilot recognized for making career milestone with 3K hours of flight time in F-15

CONTACT US NOWIn the NewsRandy Reep

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After a nearly 30-year career in the Air Force and Air National Guard, Jacksonville Attorney Randy Reep is retiring.

The 55-year-old attorney said he is officially throwing the towel in.

“I’ll be done,” Reep said. “This is a young man’s sport, and most people don’t do this much into their 40s. I’ve been blessed beyond what I could have asked for to get to do it this long.”

Reep’s fellow fighter pilots, family, friends and law office coworkers honored him for reaching a significant milestone. He amassed 3,000 hours of flight time in a F-15 over his career.

Reep’s retirement, however, was not the only one at the base. The fleet of F-15 Eagles was also retiring to make way for the F-35 Lightning, also known as “Fat Amy.”

The F-15 Eagles were first introduced in the late ‘70s and mass-produced through the late ‘90s as 4th-generation air-to-air fights were made for air superiority.

There’s a fleet of them at the 125th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard base in Jacksonville.

“It does what it does very well. It was built to go high fast and shoot far away,” Lt. Col. James Smiths said about the fleet.

Smith said the difference between the F-15 and the F-35 is night and day.

“Think of a ‘60s or ‘70s muscle car, Dodge Challenger type. Whereas, when you get into an F-35, it’s more built like a Tesla. Everything is a touch screen, and the sensors are leaps and bounds above what we have now,” Smith said.

National Guard F-35 pilots will train at the Jacksonville base using advanced technology to remain combat-ready should they be deployed into battle overseas or called to intercept threats in Florida airspace.

“We’ll be able to train to be fully capable in all those mission sets,” Smith said.

Still, the transition is bittersweet for Reep.

“As I look at going out to pasture, I look at it as an amazing era. This is an undefeated airplane in the air-war environment and it’s the sexiest airplane in my view ever built,” he said.

The F-35s will arrive at its new home between late summer and early fall.

May 15, 2024
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