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Flashback Friday with our Resident, Bill Bickert of the Gladiators Squadron

Flashback Friday Did you know on December 16th of last year, some of our residents thought we had experienced an unusual wintertime thunderstorm, but the loud roar was actually a formation of two F-18 Hornet fighter planes. The planes were from the “Gladiators” squadron, VFA-106, based in Virginia Beach. The purpose of their visit? To pay tribute to a founding member of the Gladiators squadron, Bill Bickert, a temporary guest in our facility.

Bill helped form the Gladiators squadron and even designed their insignia during his time as a Navy fighter pilot in the 1950’s. He flew the top fighter of that era, the F2H Banshee, during the Korean War from Navy aircraft carriers such as the USS Lake Champlain. The Gladiators still fly the top fighter plane, currently operating the F-18E and F models.

The formation flight that visited our facility here in Oakland was led by Lieutenant Commander Matt Egeland on his last mission before transferring from the Gladiators to the AirWing staff aboard the carrier USS Harry Truman. LCDR Egeland coordinated the fly over with local air traffic controllers to render an honorary salute – in the fraternity of fighter pilots – to our very own LCDR Bill Bickert. Thanks, Bill, for the impressive show of air power and for letting us enjoy the F-18 “sound of freedom.

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