2018 Haboob Havoc: Legacy of Airpower – Celebrating the 100th anniversary of Frank Luke’s sacrifice

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jason Bartels
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 2018 Haboob Havoc, scheduled for Jan. 29 through Feb. 2, will be hosted by Luke Air Force Base. It is an annual competition where fighter pilots hone their skills in aerial combat bringing together fighter pilots from across the Air Force to build comradery as well.  This competition builds on the legacy of Frank Luke being the second-highest scoring ace of World War I. 

The 2018 HH is particularly special as it’s the 100th anniversary of Luke making the ultimate sacrifice when his Spad biplane crashed in the French countryside during the first world war. 

Luke, the fighter pilot’s pilot, met the enemy head-on destroying numerous balloons and enemy aircraft during his short time.  On that fateful day in September 1918, Luke’s Spad was shot down by a machine gun that fatally wounded him.  Once on the ground, his bravado continued as he drew his pistol and fought the German infantry until his last breath.  His distinguished actions led him to receive the Medal of Honor.

This year’s competition continues in the spirit of Frank Luke and encompasses aerial and social competitions.  Pilots flying the F-35 Lightning II, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-15E Strike Eagle and A-10 Thunderbolt II will meet in the Southern Arizona skies of the Barry M. Goldwater Range and put their skills to the test. 

First, they will joust in basic fighter maneuvers with the quickest one to the simulated kill earning the top prize.  The team with the lowest time will garner, not only the best team bragging rights, but, most importantly, the admiration of their peers. 

The next aerial competition will find pilots executing air-to-surface attacks where the lowest score wins the highest marks.  Again, the best team will earn the overall air-to-surface trophy and the envy of their peers.

Once back on the ground, the pilots will form teams for a golf competition with match play.  Local Luke units will invite their honorary commanders to participate as well. This support along with that of the surrounding Phoenix community is pivotal in creating the world’s best fighter pilots. 

The culmination of the night is an age-old fighter pilot tradition – a crud tournament.  In this crescendo event, pilots will form teams and battle with two billiard balls until there is only one man left standing.

This year’s event is unique as Luke has opened its doors to all pilot training bases to send their students and instructors for a hands-on experience of life in the combat air force.

Our aim is to encourage aviators, young and old, to act with the same bravado Luke displayed 100 years ago and continue the fighter pilot legacy for another century.