Saturday, February 05, 2011

Navy Test Pilot Completes First F-35B Flight

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- After a series of extensive ground and simulator training events, Lt. Cmdr. Eric "Magic" Buus completed the first flight by a U.S. Navy test pilot of an F-35B STOVL variant Joint Strike Fighter Feb. 3.

"The flight was very enjoyable and went off without a hitch," Buus said. "I'm very blessed to be on this program, and it's a testament to the designers and engineers that this airplane flies so well. I'm looking forward to getting a few more hours, helping the team knock out test points, and delivering this airplane to the warfighters. I think the fleet is going to love this airplane."

"This is a great milestone for the Navy and naval aviation," said Vice Adm. David Architzel, commander, Naval Air Systems Command. "Having Navy test pilots flying the future of the fleet is a testament to the unique skill set provided by our test pilot school here at Pax River."

"Technology has come a long way, and our test pilots today are doing a great job getting the technology and capability out to the front lines," he continued.

The F-35B flight control and pilot interface is designed to reduce workload through automation and integration, allowing the pilot to focus on warfighting.

For new Navy and Marine Corps test pilots at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, advanced flight simulators provide test pilots the ability to complete their first F-35 flights solo, a first for naval aviation, and will be the model for F-35 pilot training for the fleet.

The F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program is in the system design and development phase, focusing on delivering three different, new aircraft variants to the U.S. Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. The Marine Corps and Navy variants represent the first fighter aircraft with stealth capabilities.