Luke AFB graduates 1,000th F-35 pilot

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman David Busby
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – The 56th Fighter Wing’s F-35 training program graduated its 1,000th student, U.S. Air Force Capt. Audrey Wilson, on August 3, 2023. The mission at the 56th FW is to train the world's greatest fighter pilots and combat-ready Airmen and Luke has served as one of the first bases for student fighter pilots since 1941.

“What a remarkable event for the 56th Fighter Wing,” said Lt. Col. Eric Ringelstetter, 56th Training Squadron commander. “It’s hard to believe Team Luke has produced 1,000 F-35 pilots, some of which are currently deployed. We continue to improve our persistent and efficient output of fighter pilots who will fight and win, should our nation call.”

For her final training flight, Wilson executed a six-versus-four offensive counter air training operation. This exercise prepares pilots for contested air environments with air threats, surface-to-air threats, and designated targets to strike to achieve mission success.

“There's a lot of work that goes into flying in any capacity,” said Wilson. “The last couple of flights are a culmination of everything we’ve learned; definitely tough training.”

To achieve her goals, Wilson also relied on support from the 63rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit to ensure her aircraft's readiness for takeoff and landing throughout her training.

“I’m proud of the 63rd FS and AMU,” said Wilson. “All my instructors really helped me out and I am very thankful for everything they’ve taught me.”

Wilson achieved her goal of completing pilot training and holds a special place among her U.S. Air Force peers as Luke AFB’s 1,000th F-35 pilot graduate. Wilson now flies with the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall AFB, Florida.