LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Arizona --
Aviation and F-35A
fanatics have something special to look forward to this 2016 air show season.
The Lightning II
qualified March 6 at the Heritage Flight Conference at Davis Monthan Air Force
Base, Tucson, Arizona to take part in the Air Combat Command Air Force Heritage
The program features
modern USAF fighter aircraft flying alongside World War II, Korean and
Vietnam-era aircraft in a dynamic display of our nation's airpower history.
"Being a part of
these heritage flights allows the world to learn more about the F-35 and at the
same time see just how far airpower has come over the years," said Brig.
Gen. Scott Pleus, the 56th Fighter Wing commander. "The F-35 will be the
backbone of the Air Force fighter fleet and represent the future for the U.S.,
our partners and allies. This will be a great opportunity for everyone to see
how amazing the F-35 is."
The F-35 heritage
flight team includes one pilot and 10 maintainers, all selected from the 61st
Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base.
“My team and I are
very excited for this year,” said Maj. William Andreotta, F-35 heritage flight
team pilot. “We’re so honored to be the first ever F-35 heritage flight team.
We are really laying the foundation for years to come. We know it’s going to be
a great season and we’re ecstatic about talking with different communities and
showcasing the F-35.”
The team practiced
their entire routine at the conference. The maintainers were able to showoff
their coordinated take-off and landing procedures while Andreotta practiced and
perfected flying in formation with heritage aircraft. In the backseat of one of
those heritage aircraft held a very interested passenger.
"I got to jump into the back of a P-51 Mustang and view
an F-35 off the wing,” said Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, Air Education and
Training Command commander. “Our F-35 team is ready to hit the road for the
show season. It was awesome to see it up close and personal. I feel very
confident in what the Luke team is doing here, and I'm excited for them to show
this aircraft off to the world."
From the opposite
perspective, Andreotta experienced flying in formation with heritage aircraft
for the first time during the conference.
“It’s surreal to be flying the latest and greatest fighter
aircraft in the world and look over to see fighter aircraft from World War II,
Vietnam and Korea right next to you that were at one point the greatest
fighters of their generation,” Andreotta said. “It’s like passing the torch in
Heritage flights are
just as incredible on the ground as they are from the air.
“Viewers are going to get to see a remarkable show,” said
Master Sgt. Ed DeLeon, F-35 heritage flight team superintendent. “They will see
America’s newest technology and compare the advances first hand. We’re going to
showcase the past, present and future of the Air Force.”
The team will travel
to 16 air shows around the U.S. and abroad.
excited about demonstrating this capability to the world," said Air Force
Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III in January when the service first
announced the F-35's participation in the Royal International Air Tattoo this
summer at Royal Air Force Fairford, England. "The F-35 represents a new
way of thinking about data integration, weapons and tactics. We're thrilled to
highlight the program and the amazing Airmen who support this cutting-edge fighter."
The F-35 heritage
flight team gets to officially start their historic first season at home.
“Our first show is at
Luke,” DeLeon said. “It’s nice to be able to start at home and showcase what
we’re all about in front of our friends and families. After that, I’m so
excited to get on the road and show the world what we’re all about.”
Luke will present the
"75 Years of Airpower" air show to the Arizona community April 2-3,
The F-35 Heritage Flight Team schedule:
2-3 Apr 16 Luke AFB
22-24 Apr 16 Langley AFB
7-8 May 16 Ft Lauderdale, FL
28-29 May 16 Jones Beach, NY
18-19 Jun 16 Ocean City, MD
25-26 Jun 16 Hill AFB
8-17 Jul 16 RIAT/Farnborough
19-21 Aug 16 Chicago, IL
3-5 Sep 16 Cleveland, OH
14-18 Sep 16 Reno, NV
14-16 Oct 16 AF Mem HF / Baltimore
12-13 Nov 16 Nellis, AFB