HILL AIR FORCE BASE Hill Air Force Base's F-16 fighter pilots have been working some late nights.
The 388th and 419th Fighter Wing pilots have been conducting night-flying training runs, rushing over Utah's west desert in the dark to prepare for night combat conditions.
"We have requirements to train at night because we fully expect to deploy at night in combat," said Lt. Col. Paul Schmidt, a pilot with Hill's 388th Fighter Wing.
The jets have been roaring through the sky to the Utah Test and Training Range across the Great Salt Lake from early evening until shortly after midnight Mondays through Thursdays.
The pilots have monthly and annual night-training requirements. The winter months are better for training because of the long nights and short days.
"It is different flying at night," Schmidt said. "For probably the first five to seven flights, it's a pretty big adjustment. Then after a while, you develop the skills you need that will be used at night, and you begin to feel comfortable."
One of the biggest differences is using night-vision goggles, which allow pilots to see better in the dark, but the field of vision is restricted. "In some regards, we try to do almost the same thing we would do during the day," Schmidt said. "What will change might be our formations and the special capabilities that we have. Some special capabilities we have only exist at night."
The training also prepares the ground crew for night conditions. Working on an F-16 during daylight hours is slightly different.
"The only real concern is safety. Sometimes, you have to slow down a little," said Sgt. Kevin White of the 419th.