09/02/10 — Seymour Johnson AFB jets, tankers head for calmer skies

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Seymour Johnson AFB jets, tankers head for calmer skies

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on September 2, 2010 1:46 PM
Last update on: September 2, 2010 2:32 PM

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Officers from the 4th Fighter Wing evacuate F-15E Strike Eagles this morning to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in anticipation of winds associated with Hurricane Earl.

The sights and sounds were similar to those witnessed last week when 4th Fighter Wing F-15Es joined the war effort in Afghanistan.

But when dozens of Strike Eagles took flight from the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base flight line this morning, the crews manning them knew their destination would be far closer -- that unlike their 336th Fighter Squadron counterparts, they would only be away from their families for a few days at most.

Officers from the 4th -- and the aircraft they command -- joined an evacuation that began Wednesday evening when three 916th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R Stratotankers -- each loaded with cargo and airmen -- took flight to avoid the path of Hurricane Earl as the storm moves ever closer to the North Carolina coast.

And while they might only be away from their duty station for a day -- timing, 4th officials said, will depend on what damage, if any, Earl leaves in its wake -- the exodus is critical to keeping the wing's fleet fit to fight.

By the end of the day, several dozen aircraft -- KC-135s and F-15Es -- are expected to grace the Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., flight line, where they will remain until crews receive instructions to bring them back to Goldsboro.