Marines Begin Falcon Training at Eglin

Marine Corps aviators have begun flying F-16 sorties from Eglin AFB, Fla., to ease their transition into the F-35B strike fighter. As a single-engine fighter, the F-16 resembles the F-35’s arrangement more so than the EA-6 Prowlers, AV-8 Harriers, and F/A-18 Hornets that Marine aviators fly. This makes the F-16 an ideal intermediate step. “This training allows us to eliminate the added variables,” said Capt. Mark Noble, Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 safety officer. He added, “If we already understand flightline procedures and guidelines and know what to expect from a similar aircraft, we can focus primarily on F-35B training.” The marine aviators’ F-16 training began last week. These pilots will form the initial cadre that will fly the service-unique F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing variant. The F-16s arrived at Eglin in January from Luke AFB, Ariz. (Eglin report by Samuel King)