The first F-35 flights under control of an Italian pilot.
On Nov. 5, two Italian Air Force pilots, belonging to the Italian Air Force RSV (Reparto Sperimentale Volo – ItAF Test Wing), completed their initial training flight in the F-35 Lightning II at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.
It was the very first time an Italian pilot flew the 5th generation combat plane.
Interestingly, one Italian flew his mission in an Australian F-35A whereas the other one flew in a U.S. F-35 assigned to 56th FW. They were supported by Australian, USAF and Lockheed Martin ground crew and two IPs (Instructor Pilots) from the 61st Fighter Squadron flew alongside the Italians, chasing them through their first flight.
“To see a USAF IP alongside an Aussie jet with an Italian partner getting his first flight is seeing the vision for the program come to fruition. It is a great day for the F-35 and a big milestone for our team,” said Squadron Leader Nathan Draper, Australian Participant Maintenance Liaison Officer, in a U.S. Air Force press release.
According to the 56th FW, the pilots began the academic training phase on Sept. 21, which involved approximately 90 days of classroom and simulator instruction under the supervision of the 56th Training Squadron prior to them stepping to the jet.