Wednesday, December 18, 2013

First Dutch F-35 pilot takes off

Vijge climbs in an F-35A for his flight.
Air Force photo
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The first Netherlands pilot took to the skies in an F-35A, making the Netherlands the second partner country to operate the fifth-generation multirole fighter. Maj. Laurens J.W. Vijge, Royal Netherlands Air Force F-35 Integrated Training Center training lead, completed his first flight after 210 hours of classroom training and 13 flights in the simulators. The Netherlands has two aircraft stationed at Eglin, where they'll continue to train pilots for operational testing and evaluation of the aircraft starting in 2015. The Netherlands' aircraft and personnel are part of the U.S. Air Force's 58th Fighter Squadron at the 33rd Fighter Wing. The F-35 program completed some 7,400 flights and 11,600 hours to date. More than 3,200 flights and 4,250 hours of the F-35 program were completed at Eglin Air Force Base's F-35 Integrated Training Center within the last two years. (Source: 33rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs, 12/18/13)