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Hill's fighter wings join Utah communities celebrating July 4

An F-35 Lightning II flies over Northern Utah

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – This July Fourth, F-35 Lightning II aircraft from Hill’s 388th and 419th Fighter Wings will roar over celebrations across Northern Utah.

Eight pilots and about two dozen F-35 maintainers from both wings volunteer to work during the holiday to get the jets off the ground.

"From our altitude, you don't really get to see much except a sea of red, white and blue." said. Capt. Kevan Tjohn, 34th Fighter Squadron F-35A pilot. "It really is neat to see that many people support our nation and our Airmen, especially those who are deployed right now." 

The 419th Fighter Wing will fly over 12 city parade routes in the morning, and the active duty 388th Fighter Wing will fly over the Stadium of Fire event in Provo that evening. Each formation will include four F-35s.

The Independence Day flyovers are part of a longstanding tradition. The 419th FW has been flying over local parades for the past 31 years, while the 388th FW has become a longtime partner at the popular Stadium of Fire.

“We do these flyovers as a way to give back to the community and thank them for their ongoing support,” said Chief Master Sgt. Craig Fowler, 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent. “There are a lot of local kids who grew up watching these flyovers who are now bringing their own kids out to see them, so it’s a really neat tradition.”

Parade flyovers begin at 9 a.m. and include the following cities: Centerville, Clearfield, Farr West, Henefer, Morgan, Murray, North Ogden, Park City, Riverdale, Vernal, West Jordan, and West Point. Residents from nearby cities are likely to catch a glimpse of the aircraft as the pilots prepare for their next pass. The Stadium of Fire flyover will occur just before sundown.

“When the audiences see the F-35 flyovers, I hope they take pride in the aircraft and those who operate and maintain them,” said Lt. Col. Seth Jordan, an F-35 pilot in the 419th FW. “We wanted to fly as a four-ship to demonstrate our commitment to Utah and the celebration of freedom.”

Since the Hill AFB runway is currently closed for construction, the F-35s will take off and return to Salt Lake City International Airport, so residents in that area will experience increased aircraft noise.

Airmen and jets from the 419th and 388th FWs are currently deployed to the Middle East and Europe for operational missions, and to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, for training.

Hill received the first F-35A in September 2015 and will be home to 78 jets by the end of this year. The 388th FW and 419th FW fly and maintain the aircraft in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strengths of both the active duty and Reserve components.

For more on the F-35, click here.