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- Kenny Wilder
- Power User
- Posts: 7016
- Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 4:52 pm
- Location: Navarre, Florida
April 23, 2009
F-35 touches down
Highly anticipated fighter jet lands for sneak peek
Pensacola News Journal
The Joint Strike Fighter has landed.
Local dignitaries and Air Force officials stood on the ramp at Eglin Air Force Base on Wednesday afternoon and watched an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter land at the base for the first time.
Escorted by an F-16 fighter jet, the F-35 circled overhead before landing.
"I'm feeling excited," said Air Force Col. Arnold Bunch, vice commander of the Air Armament Center at Eglin. "This is a great day for the community."
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a next-generation fighter aircraft that will be used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, as well as eight foreign militaries.
Eglin will be the primary training facility for F-35 crew and maintenance personnel. When the program is fully operational in 2016, it is expected to bring 113 aircraft, 4,000 military personnel and 6,000 dependents to the Okaloosa County base.
The public may be able to catch a glimpse of the F-35 this morning when it makes a short flight over Eglin. The jet is scheduled to take off at about 9 a.m. and will fly for just less than an hour before returning to Eglin.
After the flight, some local officials and Eglin personnel will have a chance to get a close look at the jet and talk with pilots and Lockheed Martin personnel, said Mike Spaits with Eglin Public Affairs.
The jet was scheduled to arrive at Eglin on Tuesday, but it was delayed for a day due to maintenance issues.
Lockheed Martin spokesman Chris Geisel said that as the pilot was preparing to depart from Fort Worth, Texas, on Tuesday, an on-board test system detected a problem with the flight controls, and the pilot canceled the flight.
Lockheed Martin personnel fixed the problem prior to the aircraft's departure Wednesday.
Bunch said that during the aircraft's stay at Eglin, the pilot will avoid flying over nearby Valparaiso, which currently has two lawsuits filed against the Air Force due to concerns about increased noise from the F-35 program.
Bunch said the decision to avoid flights over Valparaiso was in line with Air Force guidelines set out for the F-35 program, and Air Force officials are looking for ways to decrease the F-35's impact on surrounding areas.