Reserve Citizen Airman completes 4,000th flying hour in T-38 Talon
By Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson, 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 24, 2020
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Working on a gloomy Wednesday morning can be difficult for many, but for Lt. Col. David “Beau” Easterling Jr., 43rd Flying Training Squadron instructor pilot, this day was special.
Easterling completed his 4,000th flying hour in the T-38 Talon on September 23, 2020, at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.
The hours are an accumulation of flying at Columbus AFB, Randolph AFB, Texas and Williams AFB, Arizona, but Easterling says the bulk of the flying occurred at Columbus AFB.
When asked what reaching the milestone means to him, Easterling said it is a part of his journey as a pilot in the United States Air Force.
“The 4,000th hour mark is just part of the journey as a pilot,” he said. “I think it’s kinda neat, each one of those milestones are kinda fun. It’s just what happens when you come into work every day.”
Easterling started his flight shortly after 6:30 a.m., and landed around 8 a.m. After landing, he taxied back to the hangar where he was met by family, friends and wingmen.
One of the wingmen, Lt. Col. Daniela Martian, 43rd FTS operations officer, said it is a very special accomplishment and it only adds to Easterling’s great reputation.
“It’s pretty incredible in the scope of everything,” she said. “What I can say more than anything, is that Beau is a true representation of a military officer and aviator. He is just a top notch person.”
Martian says she and Easterling have a long history and that they were both instructor pilots at Columbus AFB back in 2003.
From her time spent with Easterling, Martian says he has a reserved personality and is still young at heart, but very knowledgeable.
“He is incredibly laid back, he is fun, he always brings laughter and joy to the table,” Martian said. “He is also very seasoned, you can talk to him about something with the airplane that went wrong to how to interface with a student. He never complains, he’ll do whatever you ask him to do.”
Easterling says what keeps him continuing to fly is not only the flying itself, but it is also the people he works with and the student pilots.
“I enjoy flying the T-38 and I enjoy instructing,” he said. “We fly with some very motivated students, we fly with great aircraft and I like being in Columbus. Don’t get me wrong, flying is great, but the main reason I continue to be an instructor pilot is the people I work with.”
Easterling says he is very grateful for the opportunity the Air Force has given him to be able to fly the T-38 for so long. He plans to continue to fly and instruct in the T-38 until he retires in 2021.