Capt Lindsay “MAD” Johnson will fly at airshows across the US aboard the new demo aircraft specially painted to pay homage to the “Memphis Belle”.
As the annual Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base drew to a close last week, the U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team announced the new commander and pilot for the 2023 Airshow season. Capt Lindsay “MAD” Johnson took the reins of the team from Maj Haden “Gator” Fullam, who led it for the 2021 and 2022 airshow seasons. Capt Johnson is also the third female Air Force demonstration pilot this year, following Capt Aimee “Rebel” Fiedler of the F-16 Viper Demo Team and Thunderbird #4 Maj Lauren Schlichting.
Before being named the team commander, Capt Johnson was an Instructor Pilot and Flight Commander assigned to the 357th Fighter Squadron, Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona and previously served also in Texas and Korea. As a veteran instructor pilot, she has amassed over 1,250 flight hours, including 431 combat flight hours in support of both Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and the Resolute Support Mission.
The new A-10 Demonstration Team pilot has been announced! Did anyone get it right?🤙 pic.twitter.com/L2LxKms5Fc
— A-10C Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team (@A10DemoTeam) March 3, 2023
Capt Johnson will take part, together with the 10-person team, to over 20 airshows across the United States and internationally, starting this week, performing aerial maneuvers and showcasing the combat capabilities of the A-10 and the Airmen who maintain it. The A-10 Demo Team will also perform heritage fights with Air Force aircraft from past generations, paying tribute to those who paved the way for Airmen that serve today.
It’s great to be back @DMAFB this weekend for 2023 HFTC. I certified our new @A10DemoTeam pilot – Capt Lindsay “MAD” Johnson, 357FS, & will meet our 4 ACC Demo Teams & civilian pilots from @afhflight. Chief & I also enjoyed our visits w/ 355W & 55ECG. Really great trip so far! pic.twitter.com/ieP5IR8q7T
— Gen Mark Kelly (@ACC_Commander) March 4, 2023
And speaking about tributes to the past, one of the three A-10Cs assigned to the demonstration team received a new heritage paint scheme. As the team explained on Facebook, in an effort to pay homage to the work the B-17F “Memphis Belle” did during WW2, the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing nicknamed one of their F-105s the “Memphis Belle II.”
The “Memphis Belle II” was assigned to the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron and is credited with two air-to-air kills in 1967. Since the team’s aircraft are assigned to the 357th Fighter Squadron, it was decided to nickname tail number 78-0651 “Memphis Belle III”. As the “Memphis Belle II”, the A-10 has been painted in the Vietnam-era SouthEast Asia (SEA) camouflage.
The upper surfaces of the A-10C have thus been painted with medium green, dark green and dark tan patches, while the lower surfaces have been painted with camouflage gray, in line with the same colors used by the US Air Force aircraft during the Vietnam conflict. To honor the Prisoners of War, Missing in Action and Veterans, the starboard side of the A-10’s nose features the names of all the unit’s members who lost their lives or were captured during the conflict, accompanied by the National League of Families POW/MIA flag.
The A-10 Demo Team is not new to these tributes to the heritage of their unit, as in 2021 another A-10, tail 81-0962, was repainted in the SEA camo inspired by the F-105 Thunderchiefs that the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing (former designation of the current 355th Fighter Wing based at Davis-Monthan) flew during the Vietnam War. Like “Memphis Belle III”, the A-10 featured the names of the unit’s PoWs and KIAs and was still flying with these colors during the recent Heritage Flight Training Course.