First Leatherneck Lightning Driver

USMC-jsf.jpg

The Marine Corps announced today that the first active-duty leatherneck to fly the F-35 Lightning II JSF had a sortie today at Lockheed's Ft. Worth, Texas, plant.

According to a release:

Maj. Joseph T. "O.D." Bachmann departed the runway at Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth plant at 11:29 a.m. CDT and flew the aircraft to 15,000 feet, checking handling qualities and engine response before landing one hour and 15 minutes later.

"The plane performed wonderfully," said Bachmann, a member of the F-35 Integrated Test Force and one of the team test pilots who will fly the F-35B Lightning II at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., test site, beginning this summer. "The U.S. Marine Corps will be getting an aircraft with extraordinary capabilities that is very easy to fly. Today is another step toward delivery of the first jets to Marines on the front line."

Bachmann flew the conventional version of the JSF during the test run, and he's the second military pilot to fly the jet after Air Force jet jock Lt. Col. James "Flipper" Kromberg flew the CTOL version in January 2008.bachmann.jpg

More on Bachmann:

During his military career, Bachmann made two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom - one from the "Harrier Carrier," USS Bataan, and the other land-based at Al Asad, Iraq. During flight operations in Iraq, Bachmann earned four Air Medals and a Navy Commendation with a Combat V.

And I just love this line from Lockheed in their press release...

Three F-35 variants derived from a common design, developed together and using the same sustainment infrastructure worldwide will replace at least 13 types of aircraft for 11 nations initially, making the Lightning II the most cost-effective fighter program in history (emphasis added).

Despite that absurd marketing slogan, we at DT congratulate Bachmann for a safe and enjoyable flight and wish him the best during the rest of his flight test duties.

-- Christian

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