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Luke renames FTC after beloved pilot, leader, and mentor

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jakob Hambright
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – The 56th Training Squadron hosted a renaming ceremony for the newly deemed Skip Hopler Fighter Training Center, March 29, 2024, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.


“This building will serve as a world class training center for the F-35 for decades to come,” said retired Lt. Gen. Tom Jones, former deputy commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa. “For the men and women who train here, work here, and learn here, they’re going to refer to this building as the Skip Hopler building.”


Late and retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Edwin “Skip” Hopler was a renowned fighter pilot and instructor, serving 21 years as an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, which included two combat tours in Vietnam. In 1988, Hopler retired as a pilot but continued serving as an instructor at Luke AFB. He was directly responsible for the training of over 17,000 F-16 pilots, before he followed the Air Force into the F-35 Lightning II training program.


“We are so grateful that this building now shares Skip’s name,” said Heather Hopler, widow of Skip Hopler. “Skip was truly honored to have served here and impacted so many lives.”


After the ceremony, attendees participated in a long-standing fighter pilot tradition, “the nickel on the grass toast”, serving as a final salute to the fallen aviator.


The Skip Hopler Fighter Training Center immortalizes Hopler’s legacy amongst Luke AFB and the fighter pilot community. His dedication as a fighter pilot, leader, and mentor significantly enhanced both the F-16 and F-35 programs and directly contributed to the 56th Fighter Wing’s mission of training the world’s greatest fighter pilots and combat ready Airmen.