HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – The F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team has officially completed its first year as an Air Combat Command Demonstration Team.
The team’s performance at the “Sun N’ Fun Holiday Flying Festival” in Lakeland, Florida earlier this month marked the team’s 12th and final performance of the season.
The F-35 Demo Team is an aerial jet demonstration team, with a mission to inspire, engage and recruit the next generation of Airmen, as well as educate the global public on the capabilities of the Air Force’s newest 5th-generation stealth fighter.
“We had a lot of unique obstacles and challenges this season that made our inaugural year at Hill a one-of-a-kind experience,” said Capt. Kristin “BEO” Wolfe, the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team’s commander and pilot. “I’d like to give a huge ‘thank you’ to all of the air show coordinators across the country that hosted us and helped us find ways to safely showcase our jet and service.”
Originally scheduled to perform at approximately 20 shows across the country, the team had to reshape their operations in order to safely engage with the public and persevere through the COVID-19 pandemic. They performed at venues that allowed for social distancing (drive-in air shows, over-water performances, etc.), even working closely with Canadian officials to fly at the London, Ontario Air Show in Canada.
The team reinvented their community outreach, limiting in-person meetings and jet tours and opting for virtual calls with Civil Air Patrol squadrons and ROTC units across the country. Despite the in-person limitations, the team virtually met with almost a thousand cadets and aviation enthusiasts across over 20 online calls.
The team will spend the next few months recuperating, rehearsing and preparing for the 2021 show season, kicking off the official season start in March, 2021, at the Air Force Heritage Flight Training Conference, which is planned to take place at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.. They will begin flying a regular rehearsal schedule over the skies of Hill Air Force Base, beginning in early January 2021.
“We were the first wing to fly the F-35A operationally, the first to deploy it into combat, and now we’ve accomplished another unique milestone,” Col. Steven Behmer, 388th Fighter Wing commander, said. “We’re extremely proud to have the F-35 Demo Team here at Hill Air Force Base, showcasing the operational mission of our wing to the American public, and we can’t wait to show you what the team has in store for 2021.”
Previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., under Air Education and Training Command, the 2021 season will be the team’s third-year as a demonstration unit, as well as its second year as a combat jet demonstration team.
The F-35 provides game-changing stealth, interoperability and lethality. It can penetrate dangerous airspace that other aircraft cannot and destroy high-threat targets both in the air and on the ground.
For more information, contact the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team Public Affairs team at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the 388th Fighter Wing, contact the 388th Fighter Wing Public Affairs at 807-777-3200 or via e-mail at 388FW.PA@us.af.mil
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As members of the first operational combat F-35A wing, the 388th Fighter Wing, the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team at Hill AFB, UT, seeks to highlight the unique aerial capabilities of the Air Force’s newest 5th generation multi-role stealth fighter. The team also showcases the past and present of our service by flying with World War II, Korean, and Vietnam War-era aircraft during formation Heritage Flights.
The primary mission of the 388th Fighter Wing is to rapidly employ combat power with the F-35A Lightning II aircraft worldwide in support of the national defense. There are approximately 2,000 airmen and civilian professionals assigned to the 388th FW. The 388th and 419th are the Air Force first combat-capable F-35A units. The active duty 388th FW and Air Force Reserve 419th FW fly and maintain the jet in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both components. Hill AFB is now home to 78 F-35s.