Flying Tigers unite - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Flying Tigers unite

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October 5, 2007

Valdosta - The A-10 Thunderbolt is one of the most sought after planes in the Air Force.  "When I found out at the end of pilot training that I was going to be selected to go down that path, it was probably one of the happier days of my life," says A-10 pilot Capt Russell Fette.

It's not just because this plane is the only one in the military with sharks teeth and eyes painted on it's nose. It's the history behind those teeth.

They were passed on from the original Flying Tigers, a top secret volunteer group of civilians led by General Claire Chennault. They used P-40 Warhawks to protect China from Japanese fighters before World War Two.

The teeth, just one method to intimidate the enemy.  "He instructed us how to use the airplane with minimum losses on our side and maximum punishment to them and as a result, we had a good record," says John Alison, a former Major General and Flying Tiger.

The Flying Tiger lineage is still alive today, now part of the 23rd Wing at Moody Air Force Base. That's where nearly 30 original Flying Tigers came to meet the new pilots carrying on their legacy.  "They began what we continue to do today, and they still love to talk about it, and you can see the pride that they have, and that they had in what they were dong then, and it's a noble task for us to try and carry that on today," Fette says.

They say the pilots are impressive and the teeth still as intimidating as ever. And they say the A-10's aren't that bad either.  "But what makes the biggest impression if you saw that cannon shoot! That's what impresses me. I wish we had a gun like that," Alison says.

Moody airmen say as long as these planes stay in Valdosta, the Flying Tiger heritage will live on.