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Major deployment postpones Cannon Appreciation Day

About 350 Cannon Air Force Base personnel on Friday will deploy to Nevada for three weeks of training exercises, the largest deployment so far this year.

Col. Jeff Harrell, 27th Fighter Wing vice commander, said pilots and support personnel from the 522nd and 524th Fighter Squadron will be participating in the “Red Flag” exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, near Las Vegas, Nev.

The exercise will include air-to-air and air-to-surface training, Harrell said.

“The Red Flag exercise is the biggest exercise our F-16 fighters participate in during the year,” Harrell said.

Because of the deployment, this year’s Cannon Appreciation Day has been postponed until Aug. 20, Harrell said.

“We will have at least 1,500 personnel getting our planes deployed on Aug. 13., and we did not want all those personnel to miss Cannon Appreciation Day. We also thought that it would not be showing the true appreciation we have for the city of Clovis if so many of our personnel were not able to attend the event, so we urged the city to postpone it one week,” Harrell said.

Harrell said Nellis offers the best training site available in the United States for his fighter pilots.

“The bombing range and tactical range at Nellis Air Force Base are huge,” Harrell said. “When you put over 100 aircraft in the air you need a large piece of real estate.”

Pilots from Cannon will be participating in the United States Air Force Weapons Instructor Course while at Nellis, similar to the U.S. Navy’s Top Gun school. Harrell said Cannon pilots will be playing the role of adversaries in the skies over the Nevada desert.

The pilots and crews are set to return to Cannon on Sept. 3.