482d FW Base Commander Takes his Fini Flight

  • Published
  • By Tamry L. McCauley
  • 482d FW



Col Joshua G Padgett’s Fini Flight was a momentous occasion that honored his distinguished military career and marked his last flight for the 482d Fighter Wing.         With a history deeply rooted in Air force traditions, the Fini Flight is a time-honored tradition that signifies a pilot’s final flight.

Throughout his adult life, Col Padgett has dedicated himself to military service, particularly in his role as a fighter pilot. His extensive experience and expertise have made him a highly respected member of the Air Force. As he embarked on his Fini Flight on Friday May 10, 2024, it was a moment of great significance and reflection for him.

The celebration of Col Padgett’s Fini Flight was attended by his family, friends and the dedicated air crew who worked alongside him, ensuring the smooth operation of the fighter jets based at the 482d Fighter Wing.  The event carried a deep sense of camaraderie and appreciation for sacrifices and dedication shown by aviators and their families.

As Col Padgett taxied back onto the ramp from his final flight, his wife Shelby, daughter Hannah and son Luke seized the opportunity to honor him.  They playfully sprayed him with the fire hose and showered him with water as he disembarked from the aircraft.  This symbolic gesture served as a testament to the strong bond between aviators and their Air Force family.

The tradition of the Fini Flight can be traced back to the Vietnam War, when aircrews celebrated the completion of 100 missions.  Over time it has evolved into a separate flight that marks a pilot’s departure from the unit.  It is a moment filled with both celebration and reflection, commemorating the pilot’s achievements and contributions during their time in service.

Col Padgett’s flight history is a testament to his skill and dedication as a pilot.  With a Command Pilot rating and over 3,600 flight hours under his belt, he has mastered a range of aircrafts. His expertise and leadership have undoubtedly left a lasting impact on the Air Force, and Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB), and those who have had the privilege of working with him.

As the Fini Flight came to an end, Col Padgett reflected on his time in the service and expressed gratitude to all those who have supported him throughout his career. Padgett said, “Although every flight is special, this one was extra special.  Some of the best moments of my career have been in this airplane and it has been an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to fly it for the better part of 25 years.” 

For those who have been his wingmen, it has been an honor to fly alongside him, and his legacy as a skilled pilot and devoted military leader will continue to inspire future generations.         

The final military flight is a crowning achievement to a pilot’s aviation career. While informal, it is just as meaningful as the day a pilot formally receives his wings from flight school. As Col Padgett and his family transitions to his new assignment at Southern Command, we wish him well.