ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The oldest active pilot in the history of the U.S. Air Force is stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base and was honored by his colleagues Friday night.
Lt. Col. James Routt is credited with training every Air Force pilot currently working special operations and combat search and rescue around the world at some point in their career.
Routt, 64, was also inducted into the British Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators as a "Master Air Pilot." He is only the third U.S. citizen so honored joining astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, and Capt. Sully Sullenberger, who landed an ailing passenger jet in the Hudson River.
Routt was honored by the KAFB colleagues for all of his accomplishments as he approaches his retirement in September.
He retired once before in 1996 but volunteered to return to the Air Force after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Since then he has been with the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland where he is chief pilot of the 550th Special Operations Squadron.
Routt joined the Air Force in 1970 and flew B-52 bombers at the end of the Vietnam War. He then flew WC-130s penetrating typhoons for the Air Rescue and Recovery Service before being recruited to train HC-130 pilots at Kirtland.
He is estimated personally to have trained more than 1,000 pilots and helped more than 6,000 aircrew members graduate from special-ops training.
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