Whenever you hear the super loud jets flying over Sioux Falls, know that you are hearing the best unit in the country do what they do.

According to a post on the unit's Facebook page, the 114th Fighter Wing of the South Dakota Air National Guard has been awarded the Spaatz Trophy, recognizing it as the top flying unit in the nation by the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS). The award was presented at the NGAUS national conference in Las Vegas on Monday, August 30.

“We are extremely proud of the men and women of the 114th Fighter Wing,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Marlette, SDNG adjutant general. “Time and time again, they have demonstrated their professionalism and ability to accomplish the mission. No other fighter wing in the Air National Guard has been recognized more times than the 114th Fighter Wing for their outstanding service.”

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The Spaatz Trophy is awarded based on the combat readiness, unit performance compared to other Air National Guard flying units, mission execution, safety, maintenance, inspection ratings, and other factors.

The 114th Fighter Wing has been deployed to 19 countries, sending 400 Airmen to support global operations as well as duties within the United States, including local support of South Dakota's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fighter jet that is currently flown by the South Dakota Air National Guard is the venerable F-16 Fighting Falcon. It has been flying that jet since 1991, the longest run of any aircraft operated by the 114th Fighter Wing. While the F-16 has been a fixture in the skies over Sioux Falls, the jets currently flown by the unit are not the originals. In 2010 the newer Block 40 models of the F-16C were delivered from other bases that had been closed.

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