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Navy's Likely Oldest Active Fighter Pilot Retires

Makes Ceremonial Landing In New Orleans

The man believed to be the Navy's oldest active fighter pilot gave up that title on Saturday ... at least the "active" piece ... when he landed his F/A-18 Hornet at New Orleans' Lakefront Airport.

The pilot is Cmdr. Tim Kurtz, and at 54, he is acknowledged as the oldest fighter pilot in the Navy. But that information is difficult to check, according to a report in the New Orleans Advocate, because the Navy does not keep a listing of its pilots by age. Andrew Thomas, public affairs officer for the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, said that fighter pilots are a pretty close-knit group, so if they say Kurtz is the oldest, then it's probably true.

Cmdr. Kurtz is attached to Strike Fighter Squadron 204 ... the "River Rattlers." He was given the call sign "Scorch" when a practice bomb he dropped during a training mission in Nevada missed its target and started a 15,000 acre brush fire.

Last Saturday, Scorch and his wingman Abaxes "Chili" Williams, 43 departed from Belle Chasse Naval Base to work on maneuvers designed to give other pilots an accurate depiction of how an enemy would fly in a combat situation. "We spend most of our time playing the bad guys," Kurtz told the paper.

Scorch reportedly has 5,400 hours in his logbook, along with 41 combat sorties and 300 traps aboard an aircraft carrier. At the end of his final flight Saturday, he was guided to his parking spot by his son, 18-year-old Charlie Kurtz, a freshman at LSU and Navy ROTC student. His two daughters, Annie, 22 and Celia, 14 were also present.

Cmdr. Kurtz was "watered down" after the flight, and his older daughter pulled a cord to inflate a flotation device on his jumpsuit. The day ended a 25-year career flying for the Navy.



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