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Edwards Pilot Reaches 12K Mishap-Free Flying Hours: Lt. Col. Dave Cotton, chief of training with the 412th Operations Group at Edwards AFB, Calif., recently achieved an extremely rare milestone for active duty pilots—hitting 12,000 accident-free flight hours. A 1974 Air Force Academy graduate, Cotton hit his mandatory retirement cap of 28 years in 2002, but due to the war on terror, he was retained to fill a key position. “I joined the Air Force to fly airplanes, that was really the bottom line,” Cotton said. He is up for re-retirement in 2006.