OGDEN, Utah — Consistent with past night-flying operations out of Hill Air Force Base in the past, the 388th Fighter Wing will continue to fly at night until early April.
“We expect to be flying almost every weekday kind of now through April,” said Jonathan “Rev” Hassell, a pilot and Director of Operations for the 388th Operations Squad. “The F-35 is a all-weather fighter, we’re trained to fly all of our missions during the day and nighttime so as part of that, maintaining our combat readiness we need to train at those missions during the nighttime.”
Hassell has been flying the F-35 for about two years and recently returned from a deployment with the 421st Fighter Squadron overseas.
Within the past few weeks, Utahns across the Wasatch Front were reporting a loud boom and shaking from a ‘sonic boom’ that had been confirmed by the 388th Fighter Wing. Hassell says that it’s common for pilots to break the speed of sound, but it’s not every day you can hear or feel the sonic boom from such great distances.
“We actually fly supersonic quite a bit as part of our normal training and I know last week there was a sonic boom heard over Salt Lake City and to be honest that’s a bit of a surprise for us as well,” said Hassell. “I’ve been flying fighters for over a decade and I have never heard of a sonic boom being felt or heard I think it was 50 of 60 miles away.”
Both active duty 388th and reserve 419th Fighter Wings are conducting night-flying on weeknights where weather permits safe flying conditions.
“These times may also change based on a number of factors including weather, airspace availability on the Utah Test and Training Range, and other support elements,” the 388th Fighter Wing stated in a media release.
“It is (night-flying) a huge factor in what we do,” said Hassell. “If you take our regular mission set whether it’s air-to-air training or air-to-ground training and then you make it dark, it’s just much more difficult to accomplish.”
Over the course of the past two years, all three of the wing’s fighter squadrons have deployed in support of combat operations in the Middle East
78 F-35A Lightning IIs called Hill Air Force Base ‘home’.
“The 388th and Reserve 419th are the Air Force's first combat-capable F-35A units, and fly and maintain the jet in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both components,” the 388th said.
“The F-35 this is the most advanced fighter we call it a fifth generation aircraft,” said Hassell.