Tag Archives: USAF

Watch the F-35 Show Off its Capabilities at the Paris Air Show

The F-35A made its aerial demonstration debut on June 19, 2017 at the Paris Air Show in front of crowds of thousands. Watch this impressive display of 5th Generation innovation in military aviation. This video is courtesy of Lockheed-Martin, the aircraft’s manufacturer.  The ship is currently undergoing a rich plethora of tests at Edwards Air Force Base, the Air Force’s principal Flight Test Center.  The demonstration video is 6:39 long.  Remember your sound needs to be on, and you might want to open the video full size, since it is in HD.

And, another comprehensive video, only 2:00 minutes long, below, shows this versatile new fighter in various configurations for different mission purposes.  The F-35 program has accomplished the final developmental test flight of the System Design and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the program. The developmental flight test program has conducted more than 9,200 sorties, accumulated over 17,000 flight hours, and executed more than 65,000 test points to verify the design, durability, software, sensors, weapons capability and performance for all three F-35 variants.

One of these variants includes the capability to take off vertically, without the usual long runways required of such advanced fighter aircraft.  Be amazed as this fighter does things seemingly impossible.  You will see one of its variants taking off straight up, and doing so from an Aircraft Carrier, also.  The F-35 will be used by all three aviation branches of the U.S. Armed Forces: The USAF, USN, and the USMC. Learn even more about this fighting machine right here.

New Navy and Marine Pilots Qualify for 1st Carrier Landings

Once again, from our ever alert Aviation News Scout, Virg Hemphill, comes another great video post regarding Naval Aviator in training – – – when they are ready for their first attempts to land  a fast moving jet on the mother ship – and Aircraft Carrier.

Virg and I were USAF jet pilots, so we didn’t have to endure this experience, in fact we not so jokingly used to refer to all Navy landings aboard ship as either good or bad “controlled crashes.”  That’s because, as you can see, there’s simply no such thing on an Aircraft Carrier as a “smooth” landing.

The arresting gear that so suddenly jerks your hurling machine to a sudden stop, simply cannot provide a “smooth” end of flight experience.  In fact, when you stop to think about the Navy shipboard landing process, if the pilots were not tightly constrained by a strong shoulder and seat harness, they’d likely be gravely injured or even killed by the sudden stop – as would they be had their plane hit a brick wall.  Of course the jets are purposely designed to be exceptionally strong, enough to safely take the sudden stops involved with every Carrier landing.

Without further ado, here’s “The Day of the Tests.”  It is 6:52 long.

When Air Force model aircraft are re-designed for Navy Carrier Service, they must be especially reinforced to be able to withstand the extreme landing forces they’ll have to endure.  The result is, of course, that the USN version of the jet will be considerably heavier because of the extra weight of the reinforcement metals involved.

As you can see in this video, there’s a tendency for understandably nervous new pilots to come in too high – – – and to thereby miss the arresting cable altogether.  One pilot even forgets to put his tail hook down.

One of the most difficult parts of the new carrier landing technique is for the fledgling pilots to remember to immediately put on full power the instant they touch the deck.

This must be done to be sure that, should the pilot not snag the arresting cable, they’ll have sufficient power to “go around” or make another attempt to land.  Missing the arresting cable is called a “bolter.”  Doing this sudden application of power upon touching down is an unnatural or non-instinctive procedure, yet critically necesary.  If it’s not done with precise timing, they risk rolling straight off the Carrier’s deck and into the ocean.

Your editor spent three years in the Navy before switching to the Air Force and found this videos’ pilots’ reference to the “Boat” as startling.  When I served in the Navy, one never used the term “boat” for a large ship, such as an aircraft carrier, so the acceptable language has certainly changed in the past fifty years!   We were literally scolded, if we referred to our ship as a boat!

 

AF & USN Demonstration Teams Fly Together at Pensacola

And the Blue Angels “Swap Paint.”

Thanks to “Fighter Sweep” we have this following news story about the two U.S. military aviation demonstration teams’ exhibition over NAS Pensacola, Florida, home of the Navy’s principal Flight Training Station. See the below 1:11 long video.  You may ask, “what’s it mean to swap paint?”  The video explains.

And why were the Thunderbirds joining up with the Blue Angels?  It was the 71st Birthday for the Blue Angels, and the USAF Team crashed their party.  They hadn’t done this since 2002. But it was a friendly exchange of not just greetings and airborne teamwork, but also of ideas and mutually similar experiences in the crowd thrilling exhibition business.  For the “younger” Thunderbirds, it was their 70th birthday.  This video is 1:53 long.

Air Force and Navy Flight Demonstration Teams join for group portrait at Pensacola, FL in celebration of the Blue Angels’ 71st Birthday.

Earlier, here below, is a USAF KC-135 Tanker refueling the Navy’s Blue Angels exhibition team in mid-flight.  This clip is 1:01 long,  and shows some beautiful footage of the refueling action as it takes place.  One of our more active FASF members, Col. Alan Fisher, accumulated many hours flying this same tanker during his USAF career.

 

FIRST FEMALE US Air Force Thunderbird Aerobatic Pilot

The following story and first video is from official USAF PAO sources and alsoFighter Sweep.”

Earlier photo of then Major Nicole “Fifi” Malachowski in her official Thunderbirds uniform  . . . If you click on her portrait above, it will take you to a Wikipedia biography of this top USAF female fighter pilot.

ABOVE:  A video about Lt. Colonel Nicole “Fifi” Malachowski, the first female member of the actual USAF Thunderbirds official Demonstration Team.  It is 3:30 long.

The above Video is of a talk by Colonel Nicole “Fifi” Malachowski to the “Fighter Sweep” group.  It is quite a long program: 1:20:22 in length.  Malachowski first appears in the video at the 9:00 minute mark.

Nicole “Fifi” Malachowski in flight gear.

The topmost inspirational video is about the first female US Air Force Thunderbird aerobatic pilot. The USAF Air Demonstration Squadron (“Thunderbirds“) is the air demonstration squadron of the United States Air Force (USAF). The Thunderbirds are assigned to the 57th Wing, and are based at Nellis AFB, Nevada. Created in 1953, the USAF Thunderbirds are the third oldest formal flying aerobatic team (under the same name) in the world, after the US Navy Blue Angels formed in 1946 and the prestigious French Air Force Patrouille de France formed in 1931.

The Thunderbirds Squadron tours the United States and much of the world, performing aerobatic formation and solo flying in specially marked aircraft. The squadron’s name is taken from the legendary creature that appears in the mythologies of several indigenous North American cultures.

Then Major Malachowski standing under afterburners of an F-15 Fighter, the aircraft which she was assigned to fly at the time.

When Nicole Ellingwood (her maiden name) went to High School in Santa Maria, California, she was an active member of both the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and also engaged in the High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC (JROTC) program, as well. Quickly displaying her skill as a leader, young Ms. Ellingwood rose to the highest Cadet rank attainable, that of full Cadet Colonel.  She started working on her pilot’s license before graduating from high school, and achieved her pilot’s license at the age of 16. Nicole graduated from Western High School in Las Vegas in 1992 and went on to the United States Air Force Academy from there.  Obviously highly motivated, Nicole graduated at the top of her pilot’s training class in the Air Force.

Below short ( 3:58) video at Air Show includes Nicole giving ride to CNN reporter Alex Quade.


On 1 March 2013, the USAF announced that due to budget cuts, aerial demonstration team performances would cease indefinitely, effective 1 April 2013.[1] On 6 December 2013 the Thunderbirds announced their 2014 schedule and the resumption of their appearances.

Overview

The Thunderbirds Squadron is a named USAF squadron, meaning it does not carry a numerical designation. It is also one of the oldest squadrons in the Air Force, its origins dating to the organization of the 30th Aero Squadron, formed at Kelly Field, Texas on 13 June 1917.

Officers serve a two-year assignment with the squadron, while enlisted personnel serve three to four years. As the squadron performs no more than 88 air demonstrations each year, replacements must be trained for about half of the team each year, in order to provide a constant mix of experience. In addition to their air demonstration responsibilities, the Thunderbirds are part of the USAF combat force and if required, can be rapidly integrated into an operational fighter unit.

Since 15 February 1974 the Thunderbirds have been a component of the 57th Wing at Nellis AFB. Since 1953, they have flown in front of more than 300 million people.  F-16 Fighting Falcon The Thunderbirds performing the crossover break. The Thunderbirds perform aerial demonstrations in the F-16C Fighting Falcon, and they also fly two F-16D twin-seat trainers. The F-16 has been the demonstration aircraft for the Thunderbirds since the 1983 season.

In January 1982, several members of the squadron were killed in what became known as the “Diamond Crash” of T-38 Talon aircraft which the squadron had flown since 1974. Partially as a result of that accident, the squadron switched to the F-16A, and sat out the 1982 airshow season and spent that year retraining and transitioning over to the new aircraft to ready themselves for the 1983 season.

The F-16, however, had been considered for transition prior to the accident. In rebuilding the Thunderbird Team, the Air Force recruited previous Thunderbird pilots, qualified each in the F-16A, and had them begin by flying “two-ship” maneuvers, then expanded the program one airplane at a time up to the full six airplanes.

Beginning in June 1982, the F-16 Thunderbirds were led by Major Jim Latham. The team continues to fly the F-16, having switched from the F-16A to the F-16C in 1992.  Only a few minor modifications differentiate a Thunderbird from an operational F-16C. These include the replacement of the 20 mm cannon and ammunition drum with a smoke-generating system, including its plumbing and control switches, the removal of the jet fuel starter exhaust door, and the application of the Thunderbirds’ glossy red, white, and blue polyurethane paint scheme. All of the modification work is performed at the maintenance depot at Hill AFB near Ogden, Utah.

Other than those modifications, the aircraft are taken from the standard USAF inventory as production fighters, and can be returned to an operational squadron in short order without any major modification. General Dynamics F-16A/B Fighting Falcon During the switch to the F-16A the Thunderbirds acquired new block 15 aircraft which they operated from 1983 to 1991, making the team one of the last USAF units flying the older F-16A’s before transitioning into new C’s.

They also operated the two-seat F-16B during this time for training new pilots and for VIP flights, these being replaced by the F-16D when the rest of the squadron transitioned to the F-16C. Two F-16s demonstrate a Reflection Pass Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcon (Block 32) The block 32H/J aircraft currently assigned to the Thunderbirds were built in 1986 and 1987, and operated by the Thunderbirds from 1992 to 2008. At their retirement, they were some of the oldest operational F-16s in the Air Force. Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcon (Block 52) In the 2009 show season the Thunderbirds transitioned to an updated version of the F-16 fighter. The Block 52s have an upgraded avionics package that brings the Thunderbird fleet into alignment with the rest of the worldwide F-16 fleet.