Text & Pictures: Virginie Wiacek © sbap 2014

Friday the 29th of August 2014, was a special day for the Belgian Air Force and especially for one of its pilots… The Commandant Marc “Charlz” Longle is the first Belgian pilot to reach 4000 flight hours on F-16! Only forty pilots worldwide have already reached this amount of flight hours and “Charlz” is the third European one to achieve it! All his colleagues, family and friends were there to celebrate this event.  

“Charlz” grew up in a military background, as his father and grandfather were both weapon crews at the 1st Squadron. At five years old, “Charlz” already wanted to become a fighter pilot and never changed his mind.

He started his career in 1981 at the Royal Cadet School. Then, he joined the Royal Military Academy with the 124th promotion in 1984. He received his military pilot wings in August 1990 and started his F-16 career. “Charlz” joined the 2nd Tactical Wing on the 18th of August 1991, first in the Flight B and then was assigned to the 1st Squadron.

In January 1995, he became flight instructor at the Operational Conversion Unit. He came back at the 1st Squadron in 1996 and, in January 1998, was selected to take part in the MLU Initial Cadre. Thus, he was still instructor pilot when he came back in the 2nd Tactical Wing in 2000.

In September 2002, he joined back the 1st Squadron “Stingers” and flew his 3000th hour on F-16 on the 27th of April 2007. He reached his 4000th hour after 24 years in fighter Squadron.

“Charlz” flew his entire career on F-16. As the Commandant of 2nd Tactical Wing, the Colonel Aviator Thierry Dupont Ir, said: “Charlz had a dense and extensive career, with a significant operational expertise”. The Commandant of Air Component as well as the Lieutenant-General Aviator Claude Van de Voorde also commended Charlz’s atypical career thanks to his tactical expertise. He was monitoring young operational squadron pilots in their tactical progression.

He also took part in all the abroad operations in which the Air Force was deployed since 1990’s: Bosnia, Kosovo, Baltic Air Policing and Afghanistan. “Charlz” has an outstanding career and could reach 4000 flight hours on F-16 because he always chose to fly and was motivated enough to stay highly qualified on the jet. Sir Pierre Helson, Florennes’ mayor, not only commended the sporting and technical achievement but also the risky missions completed by the Commandant Longle.

It is as a proud man that “Charlz” is going to get retired next October. Proud to be part of this Air Force able to be quickly effectively deployed in various places at any time, without delay and with a high expertise level. But he also makes his family proud of him. I am sure that he will, in the next future, dedicate more time to his well-known passion and hobby, the motorbike and especially the Harley-Davidson.

We hope other Belgian pilots will enjoy the nice experience of being part of this select 4000 hours club.
Congratulations “Charlz” from all our team and enjoy you coming retirement!

Preparations and...go for the 4000 flight hours on F-16
Lieutenant-General Aviator Claude Van de Voorde
Colonel Aviator Thierry Dupont Ir
Colonel Aviator Thierry Dupont Ir with
Sir Pierre Helson, Florennes’ mayor
Lieutenant-General Aviator Claude Van de Voorde, Lieutenant Colonel Aviator Cédric Kaminsky and Major Michel Vandermeulen (Cdt Defence and support group)
Waiting the comeback of "Charlz"
Some fly-by's

"Charlz" and the FA89 welcoming on the apron

The first Belgian F-16 pilot to reach the 4000 F-16 flight hours with some squadron friends

Little ceremony to receive the precious patch...
The proud parents of "Charlz" Congratulations "Charlz"...Nice job!

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