By 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, UTAH – An Air Force Reserve pilot assigned to the 419th Fighter Wing made history today as he became the only pilot to amass 6,000 flying hours in the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Lt. Col. Michael "Brillo" Brill hit the 6,000-hour mark in a combat mission out of Balad Air Base, Iraq, where he has been deployed since late March. Brill was also the first pilot to reach 5,000 flying hours in the F-16 in November 2002 and 4,000 flying hours in the F-16 in August 1998. He holds the world record as the most experienced F-16 pilot among the 24 countries that fly F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.
"Six thousand hours equates to 250 days in the cockpit, not counting all the time in ground ops before and after flight," said Brig. Gen. Burt Field, commander of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Balad Air Base. "That is an incredible amount of time in a high-G, high-speed, high-stress arena."
The 6,000 flying hour milestone is also equivalent to traveling nearly 2.5 million miles – enough to circle the earth 97 times.
"Lt. Col. Brill has worked extremely hard to reach this milestone," said Col. Gary Batinich, 419th Fighter Wing commander. "While serving in the 419th Fighter Wing over the past 19 years, he's held a variety of key positions and has always managed to balance the demands of his day-to-day duties with the demands of a rigorous flying schedule."
Reaching even 5,000 hours in a fighter aircraft is a rare feat, according to Lockheed Martin, the aerospace corporation that produced the F-16.
Brill has accumulated 226 combat flying hours and has flown more than 50 combat sorties. Following Sept.11, 2001, he led the first F-16 strike into Afghanistan.
"Brillo has been leading the world in this area for a long time," Gen. Field said. "[He] is something of an icon in the F-16 community."
Brill's combat experience includes three tours in support of Operation Northern Watch; two in support of Operation Southern Watch; two in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom; and one in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Brill is a Virginia native and has called Utah home for the past 28 years. He graduated from the Air Force Academy in May 1979, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in civil engineering. He completed undergraduate pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, in June the following year. After graduating pilot training at the top of his class, Brill was selected for training in the F-16 Fighting Falcon and was assigned to the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB in 1980. He became an instructor pilot in 1984. His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal and the Aerial Achievement Medal.
Brill joined the Air Force Reserve and 419th Fighter Wing in 1989, and currently serves as the wing's Chief of Safety. He is married to the former Jean Marie Sollars of Seattle, Wash. They have three children and currently reside in Huntsville.