Thursday, November 12, 2009

188th Pilot Picked To Be One Of First To Fly F-35

By Jared Broyles, Reporter
November 10, 2009

FORT SMITH - The F-35 Lightning Two Joint Strike Fighter is the future of the U.S. military and our allies. Now, a member of the 188th Fighter Wing headquartered in Fort Smith will be one of the first pilots to be behind her controls.

Maker Lockheed Martin claims the F-35 fighter is like no other in the history of military aviation. Major Jay Spohn has been chosen as one of twelve pilots who will be the first to train on the new plane. It's an honor and an opportunity he never saw headed his way.

"I thought I'd be flying A-10's out of Fort Smith, Arkansas until the day I retired to be honest with you."

Major Jay Spohn flew into the Fort in 2007 as part of the 188th's transition from F-16's to A-10's.

"He's been an integral part of our transition." 188th commander Colonel Tom Anderson says the wing hates to lose him, but they're proud that one of their own was chosen to fly the F-35.

Spohn has flown the A-10 since joining the Air National Guard in 1999. The whirlwind process started with an email and ended with an interview about a month later.

"I was confident in my abilities. I thought I'd do okay, but I'm not going to tell you I wasn't surprised because I was very surprised that I was the guy that was picked for the job," Spohn told the media on the flight line.

Spohn says he was up against three other pilots with unique qualifications.

"He's a pilot's pilot he's very strong in his abilities to operate the plane in the air what makes him even more unique is his ability to instruct others," Colonel Anderson said.

This March the 188th will deploy for their first mission since the transition, but Spohn will not be among them. He says it's one of few regrets, not getting to see all of their hard work fly in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Spohn will be training at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

"We will be the first 12 non test pilots or the first 12 operational pilots to fly the F3-5 for the Air Force," Spohn said.

The F-35 Lightning Two Joint Strike Fighter was developed for the U.S. military and our allies. Spohn is the only pilot chosen from the Air National Guard. Another was selected from the Reserves, and ten others from active duty pilots.

The F-35 will arrive at Eglin in August of next year. Major Spohn will fly the F-15 until that time.


Related info:
188th Major Flying High In Fighter (Southwest Times Record)
From Thunderbolt to Lightning: 188th Fighter Wing's Spohn only Air National Guard pilot selected to first F-35 cadre (188th Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

No comments:

Post a Comment