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Fog nearly grounds F-35A demonstration at Hill Air Force Base

Posted at 7:04 PM, Dec 06, 2022

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — After a short delay due to the fog throughout Tuesday, a demonstration of the F-35A fighter jet was able to get off the ground at Hill Air Force Base.

In the cockpit for the abbreviated demonstration was Maj. Kristin "BEO" Wolfe, a pilot and commander for the F-35 Demo Team's third season as part of the 388th Fighter Wing.

She took to the sky, maneuvering through the fog, to showcase the aerial capabilities of the F-35A.

"That was exciting to do those maneuvers where I know that some people are getting some really cool shots," Wolfe said.

This year, her team of 15 people, 10 of which help maintain the aircraft, traveled to 26 places across 17 states. They also participated in shows in Canada and Belgium.

Those shows took place between the months of March and October.

"About 180 days on the road for the maintainers, about 140 for myself," Wolfe said.

The demonstration also gave a glimpse of the jet for the first time since a crash at the base in October.

The crash happened while the pilot was on a routine training mission, officials explained after the incident took place.

The pilot was forced to eject from his F-35A. He was transported to a hospital for observation, where he would be released later that night, according to officials.

READ: Flight operations resume at Hill Air Force Base following F-35 crash

"We get as much data as they can give us about what happened and we have complete faith in the jet, which is why we're still comfortable flying it," Wolfe said.

Air Force officials told FOX 13 News on Wednesday that a flight safety board came in to oversee the investigation and they expect more details to be released in the next 30 days.

Wolfe says the crash didn't stop her from getting right back inside the plane.

"Less than a week later, get airborne and show everybody these jets are still capable," she said.

That capability is helping her team complete what she says is a different kind of mission.

"Our mission is to recruit the next generation," Wolf said. "Their mission is ready to be able to go 72 hours later into a conflict if they need to."

After an incident like the one in October, Wolfe discussed what she tells potential recruits about the risk that can come with it.

"I would say, look at us — you know, we have over 100 pilots here at Hill that are right up in the air two days later because we have the confidence in the airplane because we know the systems, we know how the airplane operates," she said.

Now, Wolfe and the F-35 Demo Team will return to their local off-season practice until the 2023 airshow season begins.

Her team is slated to announce their 2023 show schedule next week.