Passing the Torch:

The East Coast F-15 demonstration team stood down Dec. 1, making its last performance at Langley AFB, Va. Since Langley now is mostly an F-22 base, “it’s important for the public to see and appreciate what that airplane can do,” said outgoing F-15 demo pilot Maj. Jason Costello. The F-22, which has only been on static display at some air shows, will do a very short, five-pass program at some exhibitions in 2007. In 2008, though, Costello said that it will perform a new routine designed to far surpass the impressive program the F-15 has put on for 27 years. The F-22 will demonstrate extremely tight turns, make a high subsonic pass, and come to a virtual stop over the airfield, then accelerate straight up from there, among other maneuvers. In a ceremonial farewell pass, Costello’s F-15 ceded flight lead of the demo team to an F-22 flown by Maj. Paul Moga, the new F-22 demo pilot. There will still be F-15 demo pilots in Europe and the Pacific, until they, too, are replaced by F-22s when the new aircraft becomes established in those regions. Tactical Air Command chief Gen. Wilbur Creech established the F-15 demo team in 1979 to showcase the Air Force’s operational capabilities.