USAF Announces New F-35A Aerobatic Display for 2019 Airshow Season

Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35 Heritage Flight Team pilot and commander, performs a tactical pitch maneuver in an F-35A Lightning II during the California Capital Airshow, Sept. 23, 2018, in Sacramento, Calif. During the F-35 HFT’s performance, Olson performed numerous aerial maneuvers showcasing the F-35s raw power and maneuverability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexander Cook)

New Air Force F-35A Team Will Go “Full Demo” To Showcase F-35A Capabilities.

The USAF Air Combat Command announced on Dec. 4, that the 2019 F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team will now perform a solo aerobatic display in the Lockheed F-35A Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter. The F-35A was formerly included only in the Heritage Flight Demonstration formation and did not perform solo aerobatics.

Following hints we reported on Nov. 21, 2018 the announcement that Air Combat Command will now fly a solo aerobatic F-35A demo was revealed across social media yesterday. This announcement transitions the F-35A Heritage Flight Team to a stand-alone F-35A Demonstration Team similar to Air Combat Command’s other demo teams but with the added capability of a 5th Gen multirole combat aircraft. Previously the only other 5th generation demo team in the world was the Air Combat Command F-22 Raptor Demo Team.

USAF Capt. Andrew Olson, callsign “Dojo”, appeared in the announcement video on Instagram, Facebook and across other media outlets. Capt. Olson flew the USAF F-35A Lightning II in Heritage Flight Demonstration formations with current and legacy Air Force aircraft at airshows in 2018.

“The new profile this year will be the full ‘five-course meal’ showing fans everything this jet is capable of,” Capt. “Dojo” Olson told

“We are, as we speak, hard at work practicing and refining the maneuvers that are going to demonstrate the F-35A’s full maneuvering envelope to you at airshows across the country this year and we are so excited” Capt. Olson said in the video release about the demo team.

Capt. Olson teased some components of the routine to when he told them, “What makes the fifth-generation fighter so special in general is the slow-speed, high angle of attack maneuvering it can do. We’re also going to be performing controlled flat spins while falling out of the sky as well as high-speed passes and vertical climbs.”

In combination with the announcement of the F-35A demo team the dates for the 2019 airshow season and locations where the team will fly were released. The team’s first demonstration will be at the Melbourne Air & Space Show in Melbourne, Florida on March 30-31. The team will perform at 13 venues according to yesterday’s release that will include approximately 32 flight demonstrations across the dates for these venues.

The US Air Force Combat Command now leads the entire international Joint Strike Fighter community as the first dedicated F-35 demonstration team.

The new ACC F-35A Lightning II Demo Team is the first to carry the burden of proving the critics wrong about some F-35 Joint Strike Fighter capabilities. Pundits have claimed the aircraft “can’t dogfight”. While aerobatic demonstrations are different than performance requirements of air-to-air combat and the F-35A’s strike mission, the new dedicated demo team and their routine will likely answer questions about the F-35A’s aerobatic capabilities in the demonstration role and provide insights into its tactical capabilities in both the strike and aerial combat missions.

Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, F-35 Heritage Flight Team pilot and commander performs a high-speed pass in an F-35A Lightning II over Lake Michigan during the Chicago Air and Water Show in Chicago, Illinois, Aug. 19, 2018. The F-35A Lightning II is equipped with the largest single engine motor ever built and is capable of reaching speeds of up to 1,200 miles per hour. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Cook)
About Tom Demerly
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on,, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.