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Son flies in father's footsteps

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE Fla. (AFNS) -- Some sons walk in their father's footsteps, while others fly in them.

Such was the case recently when Capt. Taylor Wight, an F-15E Strike Eagle pilot, flew a Weapons Systems Evaluation Program mission at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida with his father, Col. Al Wimmer, director of Air Forces Northern's Operations and Information Operations Directorate and an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot.

Both U.S. Air Force Academy graduates said they knew from their teenage years they wanted to fly. Wimmer flew his first flight at age 16 as a member of the Civil Air Patrol, which he joined at age 13.

"While I was at the Academy, I learned more about the Air Force and its missions and knew I wanted to be a fighter pilot," Wimmer said. "I was lucky enough to achieve that."

Wight recalls he knew from high school his desire to be a fighter pilot.

"I remember us living at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada and watching from our back porch at all the F-16 Vipers taking off and feeling the thuds from the afterburners as they took off," Wight said. "That's where it all kind of evolved for me."

Now, after 24 years, Wimmer is a command pilot with more than 3,000 flying hours in the F-16, including 450 combat hours. His son is the assistant chief of training with the 335th Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. He became a F-15E pilot after an assignment as a T-6A Texan II instructor pilot at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.

For Wight, he said flying with his dad was an honor and humbling experience.

"It's still sinking in," Wight said. "It's very surreal to fly a mission with my dad, and see him in his Viper and there I am flying the Strike Eagle. I feel super blessed, honored and humbled to have that chance. It's been a great day."

Given their different platforms, the mission they flew was a dissimilar aircraft dog fight. Rumor has it dad trumped, but both returned with a lifelong memory.

"First of all, it's a dream to fly fighters, to watch my boy fly, and for us to fly together," Wimmer said. "We were both beaming ear to ear all the way back."