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Major Milestone: Dobbins chief reaches 10,000 hours flying helicopters, C-130s

Chief Master Sgt. Terry Studstill, 700th Airlift Squadron flight engineer superintendent, poses for a photo outside a C-130H3 Hercules at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. on Nov. 22, 2019. A couple days later, he reached 10,000 flight hours - a major accomplishment for aviators. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Andrew Park)

Chief Master Sgt. Terry Studstill, 700th Airlift Squadron flight engineer superintendent, poses for a photo outside a C-130H3 Hercules at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. on Nov. 22, 2019. A couple days later, he reached 10,000 flight hours - a major accomplishment for aviators. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Andrew Park)

Chief Master Sgt. Terry Studstill, 700th Airlift Squadron flight engineer superintendent, poses for a photo in a C-130H3 Hercules at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. on Nov. 22, 2019. A couple days later, he reached 10,000 flight hours - a major accomplishment for aviators. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Andrew Park)

Chief Master Sgt. Terry Studstill, 700th Airlift Squadron flight engineer superintendent, poses for a photo in a C-130H3 Hercules at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga. on Nov. 22, 2019. A couple days later, he reached 10,000 flight hours - a major accomplishment for aviators. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Andrew Park)

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. --

If Chief Master Sgt. Terry Studstill took all of his flight hours and flew them in one trip it would last approximately one year, one month and 21 days.

Studstill, flight engineer superintendent with the 94th Airlift Wing’s 700th Airlift Squadron at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, completed 10,000 flight hours on a C-130H3 Hercules bound for Key West, Florida, in late November.

“When I started flying as a helicopter flight engineer, the max we flew was around two and a half hours,” Studstill said. “After seven and a half years, I had only flown a little bit more than 1,400 hours. I had no idea I’d ever make it to 10,000 hours.”

In the strategic airlift world of KC-10s, C-5s and C-17s, it’s not that uncommon for aircrew members to reach 10,000 hours. It’s a rare feat for someone flying C-130s and helicopters.

Studstill reached the 8,000-hour mark during a deployment with the 440th Airlift Wing, Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, in 2011. It took him eight years to obtain the remaining 2,000 hours.

“This is a monumental accomplishment,” said Col. Patrick Campbell, 94th Operations Group commander. “Very few Air Force aviators will ever meet this milestone. This is a reflection of the chief’s dedication and commitment to our country and to the U.S. Air Force. I can honestly say I have not met anyone more passionate about our Airmen and our mission than Chief Studstill.”

Studstill is widely known around Dobbins as an old-school chief. He holds his Airmen to a high standard and readily provides guidance along the way.

“I always try to treat everyone fairly,” he said. “To me, it’s the right thing to do. Treat each Airman in your section equally across the board.”

The chief credited the work of the aircraft maintainers as a crucial part of his reaching 10,000 hours of flying.

“Reaching 10,000 hours is impossible without maintenance,” he said. “Whether it’s back shop maintenance or line maintenance, I couldn’t fly at all without them. I attribute this accomplishment to every maintenance organization I’ve ever worked with because without them I never would have attained 10,000 hours.”

Throughout his 37-year career, Studstill served as both a rotary-wing and fixed-wing flight engineer. He began his career on the MH-60G in 1987 and went on to fly AC-130s, HC-130s, MC-130s and WC-130s before landing at Dobbins in 2000. He has flown on the C-130H Hercules ever since.

“Those 10,000 hours include combat, aeromedical evacuation, humanitarian relief, higher headquarters taskings, routine training and instructional sorties,” Campbell said. “He has done it all. We are all fortunate to be serving with a true American hero.”

“I enjoyed the mission of the MH-60G,” the chief said. “I liked the low flying in the helicopter and also the customers we supported: Army rangers, Delta Force, Green Berets, Air Force pararescuemen, combat controllers. I also enjoyed being able to do hoist missions and shoot the guns off the helicopter as a defensive weapon to protect the aircraft.”

Studstill has his sights set on retiring early in 2020, settling down in his wife’s hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina, and using his degree in education to teach part time.

He said it will be difficult to leave behind his wingmen and said he’ll miss the camaraderie; but he’s looking forward to beginning the next chapter in his life and taking a shot at reaching new milestones in the classroom.

“What I’ll miss the most is the camaraderie and the friendships I’ve gained over the years in active duty and the Reserve,” he said. “A fellow flight engineer from a unit I was in back in 1987 is coming to my retirement ceremony. I’ve kept in touch with him over the years. Having friendships from that far back – more than 32 year ago – and being able to stay friends and keep in touch is certainly a great part of being in the military.”

When asked if he’ll aim for 10,000 hours in the classroom, he replied with a smile, “probably not.” #ReserveResilient

(Park is assigned to the 94th Airlift Wing public affairs office.)