Offutt Airman achieves 7,000 flying hours

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- A master sergeant assigned to the 338th Combat Training Squadron recently achieved 7,000 flight hours. Seven thousand hours is a substantial amount of time to devote to anything. It is roughly equal to 10.5 months out of the year.

Master Sgt. Derek Ronning assigned to the 338th CTS achieved this milestone Feb. 14.

Since he joined the Air Force June 18, 1986 he has flown on over 7,000 flight hours on four separate aircraft and supported five different operations.

"7,000 hours is a major milestone in an aviator's career," explained Lt. Col. Benjamin Ungerman, 338th Combat Training Squadron director of operations. "It truly is an accomplish that very few will ever achieve.

"Sergeant Ronning is a hero in this community for his leadership and for this achievement," the colonel said. "He has set the bar high for others to follow. Many of our young aviators look up to him and hope to some day achieve the same level of success. I couldn't be more proud of him."

Despite this tremendous accomplishment, Sergeant Ronning's head isn't in the clouds. He recognizes his accomplishment but also those who made it possible to get him there.

"It has truly been an honor to be enlisted aircrew and I want to thank not only the fellow crew dogs who shared these 7,000 hours with me, but also the ground maintenance troops who busted their butts in the worst conditions to get us in the air," said Master Sgt. Derek Ronning, 338th CTS RC/OC-135 airborne systems engineer training superintendent.

Master Sgt. Ronning has participated in Operations Deny Flight, Southern/Northern Watch, Noble Eagle, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He has flown the EC-135 Looking Glass, E-3A NATO AWACS, E-3B U.S. AWACS, and RC-135 Rivet Joint. He has been stationed at Offutt from October 1986 to February 1994 then from July 2004 to present.