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Lightning in the night

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Emily Smallwood
  • 33rd Fighter Wing

The 33rd Fighter Wing conducted F-35A Lightning II night flying operations May 29-31, 2018, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Each night, more than a dozen jets took off between sunset and midnight. The night sorties satisfied a training requirement for student pilots who will routinely fly day and night operations upon entering the combat Air Force.

During this iteration of the pilot training syllabus, the night flying portion was stretched later into evening hours than in the past, allowing for more qualifications to be checked off across fewer days.

“Flying later into the night allows us to complete these requirements in the shortest time possible,” said Lt. Col. Nicholas Edwards, 58th Fighter Squadron director of operations.

The impact local weather patterns have on flying operations was also considered when extending the flying window.

“This also allows us to remain flexible with the unforeseen summer thunderstorms that might otherwise delay the graduation of new F-35 pilots,” said Edwards.

Instructor pilots and schedulers who work to execute the mandatory requirement understand the impact late night flying can have on the local community and take it into consideration when scheduling the sorties.

“We are grateful to our community neighbors for their support and understanding as we work to prepare America's Airmen to protect our national interests while minimizing the impact to the local community,” said Edwards.