Captain Melanie "MACH" Kluesner

Captain Melanie Kluesner is the Commander, F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team, 388th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The mission of the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration team is to showcase the unique aerial capabilities of the Air Force’s most advanced 5th generation multi-role stealth fighter, the F-35A Lightning II, as well as highlight the history of the Air Force’s service through heritage formation flights. Additionally, she provides operational oversight and direction for the 13-personnel team, to include maintenance, aircrew flight equipment, and public affairs Airmen.

Capt Kluesner entered the Air Force in 2015 after receiving her Distinguished Graduate commission from the U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Program at the University of Southern California. She is an experienced fighter pilot with more than 800 flying hours in the F-16C Fighting Falcon, F-35B, and F-35A Lightning II. Her flying assignments include Undergraduate Pilot Training at Sheppard AFB, Texas, and fighter training in the F-16C at Luke AFB, Va., in the F-35A at Eglin AFB, Fl., and in the F-35B at MCAS Beaufort, SC. Operational assignments include Kunsan AFB, South Korea, a USMC exchange at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, Luke AFB, Arizona, and Hill Air Force Base, Utah. In 2020, she became the first USAF pilot to deploy in the F-35B. 


2014 Bachelor of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Cali. 
2021 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.


1.  October 2015 – February 2017, Student, Undergraduate Pilot Training, Laughlin AFB, Texas
2.  March 2017 – December 2017 Student, F-16 Basic Course, Luke AFB, AZ
3.  Janruary 2018 – January 2019, F-16 Pilot, Kunsan AB, KOR
4.  February 2019 – May 2019, F-35A Transition Course, Eglin AFB, FL
5. June 2019-August 2019 – F-35B Transition Course, MCAS Beaufort, SC
5. September 2019 – June 2021, F-35B Flight Lead, MCAS Iwakuni, Japan
6. July 2021 -- October 2023- F-35A Instructor Pilot and OSS Flight Commander, Luke AFB, AZ
7. November 2023-February 2024- F-35A Instructor Pilot, Hill AFB, UT
6.  March 2024 – Present, F-35A Demonstration Team Commander, Hill AFB, Utah


Rating: Senior Pilot
Flight Hours: More than 1000
Aircraft Flown: T-6, T-38C, F-16C, F-35B, F-35A


Air Force Commendation Medal
Meritorious Unit Award
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award


Second Lieutenant  May 2013
First Lieutenant  May 25, 2015
Captain, May 25, 2017
(Current as of March 2024)