09/30/2011 We have done several interviews and notes on the arrival of the F-35s at Eglin. With the arrival of the new aircraft, which are production, not test aircraft at Eglin, a new era has begun.
The update from the Deputy Wing Commander on July 17 2011:
AF9 arrived yesterday a little after 1:00 local on its flight from Fort Worth. One of our pilots from the 58th Fighter Squadron was the pilot in command of that airplane.
We now have one of our pilots who has experience flying an F-35A on our team. He can start providing us good feedback and to start helping us as we go through the process now of preparing the trained pilots and maintainers. We will obviously be making sure that all the things we’ve been planning as the way to go forward actually makes sense now that he’s seen how the airplane really works.
We do have a second pilot already qualified, and that will get us through some of the events that go on this summer.
We will not start flying the airplanes right away here at Eglin. We need to wait for some more flight tests to complete before we start flying the aircraft, so basically our plan over the summer is to use the airplanes in a ground capacity to do a variety of things.
That will be everything from certifying maintenance procedures to begin some hands on training for maintainers. Obviously, we will do modifications to the airplanes as anything becomes available for the airplanes that we have in the inventory.
We’ll have the pilots get in during the summer just for ground operations, things like turning the systems on with external power and up to and including starting the engine and low speed taxi. All those things that will help us as we go into the beginnings of official pilot training and maintenance training later in the year.
We have published a number of brief pieces upon the arrival of AF-8 and AF-9.
We have done an exclusive interview with the USMC Col. in charge of the maintenance joint transition at Eglin.
We have looked at the joint training facility at Eglin, and many folks still refer to this as an Air Force training facility because it is on an Air Base, but it is not. It is a joint training facility.
We have posted a new video which looks at the celebration for launching the F-35s within the Eglin Training facility.