Streaming Live Over Facebook, USAF Capt. Kristin “BEO” Wolfe and Team Make Aviation and Media History.
The USAF F-35A Lightning II Demo Team made aviation history today with the first-ever F-35A demonstration broadcast live around the world on social media. Capt. Kristin “BEO” Wolfe along with the rest of the F-35A Demo Team streamed the flight demonstration that including expert commentary and live interviews on their Facebook page at U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team.
The live internet program was hosted by F-35A Demo Team announcer Capt. Kip Sumner of the team and featured guests like Col. Joshua “Dog” Wood, commander of the 388th Operations Group and 388th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB, Utah, where the actual demonstration flight took place. Production of the broadcast was done by the 2nd Audio Visual Squadron at Hill AFB.
The Facebook Live broadcast featured multiple cameras and angles to provide perspectives on the demo routine that would actually be impossible to get at a live airshow. To cap off the performance, there was a short interview with Capt. Wolfe immediately after finishing her demo flight.
If there was one thing conspicuously absent from the broadcast, it was live, in-cockpit video. The F-35A Demo Team has featured in-cockpit video before, but not during live broadcasts. Live video streamed from the cockpit could present multiple hurtles for the Air Force, especially with F-35A operations where operational security may be a concern in some views of the cockpit during the demo.
The F-35A Demo Team, along with all other military demo teams, have been forced to cancel early season airshow appearances due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But the pandemic has not slowed the tempo of operations for the 388th Fighter Wing, the Air Force’s first combat F-35A wing.
“For the last 10-11 weeks, the job hasn’t stopped”, said Col. Joshua “Dog” Wood, commander of the 388th Operations Group and 388th Fighter Wing during an interview with Capt. Kip Sumner during the program.
While most aviation fans would agree that an online broadcast of a flight demonstration lacks much of the appeal of a live airshow demo, by contrast, it also includes a level of insight and perspective just not available at a live airshow venue. This new broadcast pulled many unique, available online resources together to optimize the online viewing experience. The broadcast also signals a new age in social media flight demonstration that could continue even once live flight demos reopen after the COVID-19 quarantine ends.
The video program of the first-ever live F-35A Demo Team performance will be uploaded to the team’s official YouTube channel at F-35 Demo Team. The team just completed their “Utah Strong” flyovers in support of healthcare workers and first responders in the COVID-19 pandemic. The team has also published their practice schedules so people near Hill AFB can see demonstration practices live while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
There has been no announcement of when military demo teams may return to live airshow performances, but some major shows such the 2020 Thunder Over Michigan Airshow, where the F-35A Demo Team is scheduled to perform, remain on the calendar according to their websites.