It truly takes a village to make the impossible possible. Lockheed Martin F-35 Test Pilot Billie Flynn, along with countless others, did just that, flying the inaugural F-35A aerial demonstration flight at the Paris Air Show, one of the world’s largest airshows, yesterday. The team worked in flawless synchronicity for more than a year to create and perform a breathtaking demonstration that highlights the unique 5th Generation capabilities of the F-35
The team of engineers, graphic professionals and animation experts flew the profile in flight simulators more than 700 times. They analyzed the data collected to develop a routine and create safety profiles in the event of an emergency. The team created animated profiles precisely mimicking the flight and as a result, Flynn was permitted to move forward with the aerial demonstration.
While it all looked great on paper and in the simulator, the real test was flying it in real life. According to Flynn, after just 10 practice flights, the team was pleasantly surprised by how predictable, repeatable and safe the aircraft’s performance was each time he flew.
This aerial demonstration is the first real glimpse the world will have of the robust capabilities of the F-35A. In 2016, the F-35B flew an aerial demonstration at the Royal International Air Tattoo and the Farnborough Air Show in the U.K., but that demonstration centered around the F-35B’s hover capability. The F-35A’s show emphasizes the jets aerobatic maneuvering and the jet’s raw power to climb and turn.
“Everyone needs to see how an aircraft flies and performs before they’ll ever believe in it,” Flynn said. “As compelling, overwhelming and dominating as stealth, 5th Generation aircraft are, it’s really difficult for everyone to understand the concept of what this aircraft is like without witnessing it fly in a way they are accustomed to seeing fighters perform.”