First Operational F-35A Class Takes Flight

The Air Force’s first class of solely operational combat F-35A pilots flew for the first time on Feb. 8. The basic flight course, or B-course, pilots, training in the 61st Fighter Squadron at Luke AFB, Ariz., began the live flying part of training after two months of classroom instruction, according to a Luke release. Previous classes in training at Luke have included instructor pilots. For the next six months, the pilots will train on basic air-to-air, air-to-ground combat, and low-visibility flying. The group of pilots, once they graduate, will move on to operational F-35 squadrons for more advanced training. “It’s a big deal to be able to train pipeline students on the F-35 and know that they’ll soon be mission-ready when they walk out of here,” said Maj. Joshua Larsen, executive officer and instructor pilot with the 56th Fighter Wing. “It’s a unique opportunity and it’s an exciting time to be in the jet.”