A pilot in the 944th Fighter Wing became the first Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., F-35 pilot to attain 1,000 flying hours in the Air Force’s newest 5th generation fighter aircraft at the base, Feb. 22, 2021.
Maj. Nicholas “JAKAL” Rallo joined the Air Force in 2005 through the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Pennsylvania State University and transferred into the Reserve in 2018. He currently serves in a full-time capacity as Active Guard Reserve and is an instructor pilot with the 944th Operations Group Detachment 2, integrated with the 63rd Fighter Squadron through the Total Force Enterprise that keeps Luke’s mission going.
“I am honored to be a part of the 944th Ops Group Det. 2 and to work with our partners in the 63rd Fighter Squadron,” said Rallo. “I am lucky to have such a great team to work with and to have been one of the first pilots at Luke to transition to the F-35.”
Rallo’s achievement also makes him only the second operational F-35 pilot in the Air Force Reserve and the fourth in the entire Air Force to reach 1,000 hours in this aircraft.
“I am humbled to be in this first group of F-35 pilots to achieve this milestone,” said Rallo. “I love being a member of the Air Force Reserve and to be able to call Arizona home. My 944th family is how this achievement was possible.”
Rallo first started flying the F-35 in January 2015 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. He was an F-16 pilot at Hill Air Force Base, Utah and Kunsan Air Base, South Korea before becoming an F-16 instructor pilot at Luke in 2012.
The 944th Fighter Wing is a U.S. Air Force Reserve unit at Luke AFB, in Total Force partnership with the active duty 56th Fighter Wing. The two wings support the training mission to develop the future.
“I love the job I do training the Air Force’s best fighter pilots,” Rallo shared. “Our Total Force Integration makes us unstoppable and I believe that achieving big goals is just a matter of time, persistence, focus and hard work.”