‘Elegant Solution’: Arizona Pilot Fulfills Air Force, CAP Roles to Get Job Done
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Tim Mitchell, in his role as operations supervisor for the 357th Fighter Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, had a problem to solve.
An A-10C “Warthog” Thunderbolt II from the base diverted to Fort Huachuca, U.S. Army base southeast of Tucson, because of a mechanical issue. His job was to figure out how to get the subsonic attack aircraft back to its home base after it was repaired.
Mitchell first looked for an available pilot and someone to drive the pilot to Fort Huachuca, but they were short of fliers. Then the lightbulb went off. The next day, Civil Air Patrol Lt. Col. Tim Mitchell was scheduled to fly a Felix Keynote mission as a member of the Arizona Wing.
Felix Keynote missions are part of Operation Noble Eagle, a homeland security mission that began the day after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Intercept training with CAP aircraft acting as targets of interest is an important readiness exercise that occurs nationwide.
In this case, Mitchell was scheduled to fly a CAP aircraft to be intercepted by an F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 162nd Fighter Wing at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson on Sept. 27.
“I was searching for a pilot to retrieve the A-10C, and I realized I was going to be in the area the next day anyway, so I helped to provide the elegant solution,” Mitchell said.
He finished the Felix Keynote mission, which he described as “pretty routine.” It was the F-16 pilot’s first intercept mission and Mitchell’s third. Everything went according to plan.
After the mission, Mitchell landed at Libby Army Airfield at Fort Huachuca. The A-10C had been repaired overnight at Fort Huachuca by members of the 357th Fighter Generation Squadron out of Davis-Monthan. It was ready to return to its home base, the 357th Fighter Squadron, where Mitchell also is the Reserve component flight commander.
Before making his way to the repaired A-10C, Mitchell handed off the CAP airplane to another CAP pilot, 2nd Lt. James Riley, to fly back to Tucson. Riley, a fellow member of the Arizona Wing’s Davis-Monthan Composite Squadron 334, had served as mission observer for the Felix Keynote flight.
“I carried my helmet, harness, and Air Force flight suit with me,” Mitchell said, “so after a quick change, I was ready to get in the A-10C and fly home.”
Mitchell is a full-time Air Force reservist and an A-10C instructor pilot in the 47th Fighter Squadron at Davis-Monthan. He served on active duty in the Air Force beginning in 2002 and shifted to the Reserve in 2014 as an instructor.
In 2021 he joined the Davis-Monthan Composite Squadron, where he contributes as a mission pilot and orientation pilot and serves as assistant operations officer.
“Tim Mitchell’s dual service reminds us of the caliber of professionals we have in CAP,” said Capt. Brett Russo, incident commander for the Felix Keynote mission as well as commander for the Willie Composite Squadron.
“You meet amazing people who are truly dedicated to service,” Russo said. “When that serves both CAP and our Total Force partner, the U.S. Air Force, it’s a win for everyone.”
Maj. Margot Myers
Public Affairs Officer