F-22 Pilot Celebrates 1,000 Hrs. in Air at Tyndall AFB

TYNDALL-- A milestone happened Wednesday at Tyndall Air Force Base. Major Daniel "Magic" Lee logged his one-thousandth hour Wednesday afternoon in an F-22 Raptor.

Maj. Leep was supposed to be the fourth erson to log a thousand hours in a Raptor, but his friend, Maj. Jonathan "Stiffler" Gration, at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, beat him to the punch earlier in the day.

Maj. Lee's competitive nature took control; he says he's got one more trick up his sleeve. Lee jokes, "A minor frustration but I think I'll still beat him on the number of sorties a year. We will see who gets to a thousand sorties first."

In his more than 20 years in the Air Force, Maj. Lee has moved around the country, but he says he'll always call Tyndall home. "Living on the beach and flying Raptors is just about as good as it's going to get," he joked. Now he trains others to fly the Raptor in the 43rd Fighter Squadron.

He's trained about 500 students at Tyndall Air Force Base and he says teaching is probably one of the most important parts of his job. Lee explains, "It's a little bit extra work, but it's so rewarding to see the light bulb turn on for them."

So, what's it like flying an F-22 more than 1,200 miles an hour, pulling 9.5 G's? Lee says, "It feels at this point absolutely as natural as walking out the door and getting into your car in the morning. It's hard to explain other than it's pretty cool."

Thursday night Maj. Lee will log his one thousand and first hour in a Raptor, teaching students night maneuvers in the F-22.