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Joining the Elites: Lt. Col. Scott Purdie, an F-15E pilot with the 334th Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., eclipsed 3,000 hours in the cockpit of the Strike Eagle on Jan. 18. He is only the 20th F-15E pilot to reach this mark. “I feel so blessed to be able to have done what I have absolutely loved to do for so long,” the 48-year-old pilot said when reflecting on the achievement. Purdie has also spent extensive time in the cockpits of other aircraft, including the A-10 in which he has logged more than 2,400 hours. He said he intends to keep flying and be a mentor to younger pilots. “If I'm lucky, I'll be able to break 6,000 hours of total fighter time before I retire,” he said. Purdie is not alone this month among USAF pilots in achieving milestones. Four days prior to his historic flight, Lt. Col. Dan Swayne surpassed 4,000 hours flying F-16s. (Includes Seymour Johnson report by SrA. Shane Dunaway)