Friday Favorite – X-35B‏ Lightning II

The X-35B at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center in 2010. (photo by Matt Jolley)
The X-35B at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center in 2010. (photo by Matt Jolley)
The X-35B at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center in 2010. (photo by Matt Jolley)

WarbirdsNews has another great piece from Matt Jolley and Warbird Radio that we thought we would share with you this morning in our new segment Warbird Radio Favorite Friday! This week Matt Jolley will discuss his early experiences with the Lockheed X-35B and its successor, the F-35 Lightning II. 

Matt Jolley – In 2010, I had the privilege of seeing the X-35B up close at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum. This work of science fiction has now flown into reality and today serves as the United States 5th generation fighter, the F-35. Fast forward to March 2014, and I’m standing on the side of the runway announcing the air show at Luke Air Force Base. The sound of Steve Hinton revving Planes of Fame’s P-38 Lightning for its takeoff roll fills the air with excitement, and in the distance a strange bird appears in the sky. The P-38 clears the east end of the runway, and a ripple of wind rolls down the center line…. and there, for its first public performance, is the United States Air Force’s new F-35A Lighting II. Former Thunderbird pilot and hometown hero Colonel Todd Canterbury rockets skyward in the F-35A and the momentous event was underway.

The US Air Force's F-35A Lightning II at the Luke Air Force Base air show in March, 2014. (photo by Matt Jolley)
The US Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II at the Luke Air Force Base air show in March, 2014. (photo by Matt Jolley)
F-35 challenge coin. (photo via Matt Jolley)
F-35 challenge coin. (photo via Matt Jolley)

An entire flock of USAF Generals was on hand, and even the Secretary of the United States Air Force was there to witness the sight. Thousands upon thousands of spectators were present; all waiting for a glimpse of the new fighter. Looking back, I’m certain the crowd received much more than they originally arrived for. Not one, but two Lightning’s were in the sky that afternoon. The P-38 and the F-35 were flying together for this historic occasion. It was the old guard welcoming it’s new namesake, and everyone present witnessed the torch being passed.

Matt Jolley at the Luke AFB air show in March, 2014 with the F-35A behind him. (photo via Matt Jolley)
Matt Jolley at the Luke AFB air show in March, 2014 with the F-35A behind him. (photo via Matt Jolley)

When I started Warbird Radio.com my goal was simply to tell meaningful stories of our Airmen past and present. Witnessing this historic occasion, and serving as the announcer, was a moment I’ll never forget. I hope you enjoy the story that started that journey. The complete show plus unique pictures of the X-35B’s propulsion system are just a click away. Until next week!

V/R

Matt Jolley

Warbird Radio.com

Please click HERE to listen to the podcast and see additional photos!

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