Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Nellis AFB pilots fly their first operational F-35 mission

Nellis AFB pilots fly their first operational F-35 mission

by Staff Sgt. Michael Charles
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

4/10/2013 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) -- Two F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron here conducted the aircraft's first operational flights from Nellis AFB.

These historic flights came less than a month after the March 19 arrival ceremony for the aircraft, but members of the 57th Maintenance Group's Lightning Aircraft Maintenance Unit and the 422nd TES have prepared for years to make the transition of the F-35A to Nellis AFB a smooth one.

"It's been a long time coming, and the level of effort by all those involved with getting to this point has been nothing short of astounding," said Capt. Brad Matherne, the 422 TES F-35 division commander, and one of the first pilots to conduct this operational flight at Nellis AFB. "Now we can get down to the business of what Nellis (AFB) does best; the development of tactics."

The successful flight does not begin or end with the pilots, said Lt. Col. Benjamin Bishop, the 422nd TES director of operations, and the other pilot to conduct the first operational flight from Nellis AFB. It was the maintenance team who mastered a complex new airframe, and worked overtime to ensure it was ready for flight.

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