Air Force gives borough mayor F-16 ride-along

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor, Karl Kassel, visited Eielson Air Force Base earlier this month to experience a little bit of what it's like to fly as an Aggressor pilot.
A special invitation from the Commander of the 3-54th Fighter Wing, COLONEL DAVID MINEAU, gave Kassel a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Suited up in his G Compression suit, Kassel climbed aboard one of Eielson's F-16 jets - but it was more than just a ride for the borough mayor.
For Kassel it was also a learning experience.
From maintenance to fighter pilot training, Kassel says the adventure has helped him better understand how Eielson fits into the community.
Karl Kassel; Borough Mayor>>: "It impacted me to the extent that I learned much more about what goes on behind the scenes with our aircraft and I have a greater appreciation for what our airmen and the mechanics and everyone else out at Eielson, what they're up against. So I got just a much better understanding of the entire Eielson operation and what they're mission is and how it's change when the F-35s show up because they're a combat fighter wing. It really was an education for me and I can use that going forward and knowing how the F-35s and F-16s fit into our community, what they do, not only for us but for the military and the protection of our state and our country."