JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Paul “Loco” Lopez, U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team pilot, and his team finished their first air show of the season at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Az., March 17, 2018.
The 2018 Yuma Air Show brought a mixture of past and present aircraft to the skies. The Raptor showcased its superior capabilities while also performing a heritage flight with the P-38 Sabre during the one-day event.
“It feels amazing to have completed our first show,” said Lopez. “It’s a great confidence booster because it validates all the training we have received throughout the last six months. We appreciate all the support we have received throughout this epic journey.”
While many see the demonstration team as another aerial performance unit, their mission is to educate current and future U.S. Air Force generations of the importance of air superiority, while enhancing community relations.
While in Yuma, the team visited with 70 Junior ROTC students at Kofa High School and invited 130 disabled children to a meet and greet before the show.
“We thoroughly enjoy talking with the local communities,” said Master Sgt. Jamie Fleming, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team superintendent. “We hope through telling our story and the story of other Airmen, we are able to inspire others to pursue their passions and reach their goals.”
After performing for the Yuma community, Lopez flew to join the A-10 Warthog, P-51 Mustang and F-35 Lightning during the Heritage Flight performance for “Luke Days” at Luke Air Force Base.
The Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation pairs modern fighter aircraft alongside WWII, Korean and Vietnam-era aircraft to demonstrate the advances in aerial support.
“Our demo team and heritage flights are important because they provide an opportunity for us to preserve our legacy, honor the heroes who have come before us and the veterans who are currently serving,” said Lopez.
The team continued their mission in Lancaster, California performing at the 2018 Los Angeles County Air Show, March 24-25, while also managing to conquer a feat never done by another demonstration team before — Lopez flew a heritage flight 90 miles away in Riverside, California before returning to complete his aerial performance in Lancaster. During the rest of the air show season, Maj. Lopez will again perform two separated demonstrations at two different sites.
Now with their second show on the books, the 13-member team will continue their season traveling to Santiago, Chile to showcase American air power during a week-long expo.
“One of my favorite things about the F-22 Demonstration Team is getting various opportunities to travel around the world with the team” said “Loco”. “We look forward to carrying on the tradition of excellence that the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team is known for everywhere we go.”
For more information about the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team or their show schedule, visit http://www.acc.af.mil/Home/Aerial-Events/F-22A-Demo-Team/.