Langley Temporarily Lifts F-22 Grounding Order to Escape Hurricane

Air Force officials temporarily lifted the grounding of the F-22 Raptor fleet based at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., so the aircraft can avoid Hurricane Irene’s wrath. The fighters, which have been grounded since May due to safety concerns over malfunctioning on-board oxygen-generation systems, started flying to Grissom ARB, Ind., around 10 a.m. Friday. They will be kept at Grissom until the storm clears and then will be authorized to fly back to Langley, where the grounding will once again take effect, Langley spokeswoman Monica Miller Rodgers told the Daily Report Friday morning. “This is a one-time flight authority to get out of the area affected by Irene,” she said. The National Hurricane Center is predicting Irene will hit the Virginia area over the weekend, with winds in excess of 100 miles per hour. The 633rd Air Base Wing commander ordered all residents of the Heavier than Air and Lighter than Air housing areas, temporary lodging facilities, and the dormitories to evacuate no later than noon on Saturday, “provided they are non-mission essential,” according to a release. All residents living off base were ordered to follow local evacuation guidance.