Utah Pilot Wins Top Gun Honor
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (AP) _ A 40-year-old businessman from Ogden, Utah, won Top Gun honors in a competition that pitted Air Force pilots from around the world against each other.
The biennial Gunsmoke competition pits top Air Force units from around the world in competition ranging from bombing and gunnery skills to aircraft maintenance and weapons loading.
Maj. Danny Hamilton, a pilot in the 419th Air Force Reserve at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, won the Top Gun title in an F-16, competing with 100 pilots from 18 units as far away as Korea, Spain and England.
Hamilton, 40, was a combat pilot during the Vietnam War, and won the award as most proficient pilot in terms of bomb and gunnery skills.
In an interview Friday, Hamilton said he’s been flying since 1968 and was on active duty 11 years, including 360 missions in Vietnam.
He says he flies F-16s two or three times a week and is a partner in a small company in Ogden that deals with computer engineering services. He is 40, has a wife and three children.
″I’m just proud to be able to win the trophy and take it back to the unit. They’re the guys who really deserve it.
″But just let them try to take it away,″ he added, laughing.
The 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, an active duty squadron at Hill, placed first in overall team competition. Second place went to the 419th from Hill, with third place going to the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing at Torrejon, Spain.
Winning the maintenance competition was the 926th Air Force Reserve Unit at New Orleans, La., racking up a perfect score in the appearance category.
The top weapons loading team was the 51st Tactical Fighter Wing of Suwon Air Force Base, Korea.
The teams have spent the past two weeks competing at Nellis Air Force Base, with pilots flying supersonic jets across the desert floor at altitudes as low as 100 feet, playing high tech games of cat-and-mouse with tiny targets.
The competition is held every two years, with local and regional competition determining entrants in the international competition over the Nevada desert.
Winners in some of the bombing events were declared by a matter of millimeters, Air Force officials said.
Teams were also judged on how close they came to their scheduled arrival time at Nellis and some teams arrived within a second or two of the scheduled time.
The competition included F-16, F-4, A-10 and A-7 aircraft.