Fabulous Firsts

The operational (training) F-22 and the F-35 flew together for the first time according to this story at NWF Daily News.com (hat tip to Ace of Spades HQ). 

Vandal, the 58th Fighter Squadron Commander flew the F-35 in the photos.  Vandal was an instructor pilot in my very first operational squadron and was a doggone good stick (so to speak) and a great guy.  It’s nice to see old comrades doing well.  Elevation to squadron command is an indicator in the Air Force of an immense level of trust in a pilot’s abilities to lead and to fly, and doing both at the same time is a huge challenge; only a small fraction of Air Force officers become fighter squadron commanders.  Being the commander of the 58th is a special kind of challenge since the F-35, while supremely capable, is not a mature weapons system in the Air Force yet.  Folks like Vandal are chosen for jobs like that because they have to be able to rapidly develop and adjust a training plan. 

Congratulations, Vandal! Well done and keep up the great work (and CAW! for old timesake).

Update 20120924 at 0800:  Here’s a link to an AF.mil story featuring Vandal.

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