A veteran U.S. Air Force pilot assumed command Tuesday of March Air Reserve Base’s main flight unit, replacing a brigadier general who has been at the helm for over two years.

Air Force Col. Gregory P. Haynes, 53, was appointed commander of the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, the largest reserve wing in the branch, comprised of 4,000 personnel, nine C-17 Globemasters and 14 KC-135 Stratotankers.

Haynes replaces Brig. Gen. Melissa A. Coburn, 50, who was assigned to the command position in March 2019.

Prior to his placement at March, Haynes was commander of the 512th Airlift Wing at Dover AFB in Delaware, according to March ARB officials.

Haynes’ flight assignments have included tactical missions in Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Joint Resolve. His 3,500 flight hours have been logged mostly in C-5 Galaxies and C-130 Hercules, according to base officials.

In taking over the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, Haynes will be responsible for flight operations and overseeing administration of many of the base’s assets.

Coburn’s tenure featured a number of challenges, beginning with the crash of an F-16 Fighting Falcon from another unit in May 2019.

The jet suffered a complete hydraulic failure while attempting to land at March and dropped through the roof of a warehouse adjacent to Interstate 215 in Riverside.

No one was injured, and there was no post-crash fire, but the warehouse sustained millions of dollars in damage, and the freeway was shut down for 24 hours during the ensuing cleanup and removal of armaments.

The failure was ultimately traced to slipshod maintenance at another Air Force base.

Four months later, Coburn halted operations at the 60-year-old March ARB Aero Club after a single-engine airplane accident, which did not result in injuries, but instigated a review of club maintenance and management practices that the general ultimately determined to be unsatisfactory.

Despite what flying club officials described as record revenue in 2018 and expectations of even greater income in 2019, Coburn decided to padlock the historic facility. The airplanes were sold, and the office was permanently closed at the end of May.

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