Most air show attendees are scanning the Aviation Nation schedule for the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds; however, this year, don’t miss the F-35 Lightning II Demonstration Team, which is performing for the first time in Las Vegas and are teaming with the 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Bolt Aircraft Maintenance Unit to fly Nellis-based F-35 aircraft.
In addition, Aviation Nation will be the final show of the season for the F-35 Demo Team, which is based at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., but also the final show for Maj. Andrew Olson, F-35 Demonstration Team commander and pilot since October 2018.
Nellis AFB is the home of the fighter pilot. It is the home of tactical aviation in the United States Air Force. The team could not be in a better place to showcase the F-35, for the final show of the season, said Olson.
The F-35 demo team will be sending a small air crew consisting of two pilots, one production superintendent and approximately five aircraft maintainers.
The demo team will showcase the F-35’s aerial maneuverability. Spectators can expect to see the aircraft move from the slow speed flights of 57 mph to just below the speed of sound at 720 mph and everything in between.
With less than two months of ownership, Bolt AMU has the F-35 aircraft air show-ready.
“There weren’t a lot of preparations needed for the demo team to use our aircraft,” said Master Sgt. James Curry, Bolt AMU production superintendent. “We completed all the routine maintenance inspections for them, so they can focus on flying the aircraft for the air show.”
Following Aviation Nation, the F-35 demo team will head back to their home station where preparations are under way for the team to move from Luke AFB to the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB, Utah, where they will begin their 2020 season. As the only combat-coded, active-duty F-35A Wing in the Air Force, the primary mission of the 388th FW is to rapidly employ combat power with the F-35A worldwide in support of national defense.
The F-35 is the Air Force’s newest fifth generation fighter aircraft, complete with improved stealth, heightened situational awareness, and increased interoperability and lethality to reduce aerial vulnerabilities.
So, keep your eyes on the sky as Olson takes his last final flights Nov. 16 and 17 at approximately 1:15 p.m.