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Hill Air Force Base's own F-35 demo team prepares for airshow

Posted at 7:11 PM, Jun 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-04 00:36:49-04

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — It's been four long years since Utah hosted an airshow, but soon that will all change.

In three weeks, the "Warriors Over the Wasatch" airshow will take flight at Hill Air Force Base.

FOX 13 News got a sneak preview of why this year will be bigger and better. It will feature some local talent, too.

This will be an extra special show because, for the first time, their home F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team will be taking to the skies over Utah.

“This is our last practice before the local Hill air show,” said Major Kristin “Beo” Wolfe, the commander of the demo team. “It’s awesome — this is obviously our home base. We've been here since 2019 when we started practicing.”

The team was scheduled to be a part of the 2020 show, but with it being canceled, it was a letdown for all.

“We're really excited just to get everybody out — especially the local community — onto the base just to see this airplane, the Thunderbirds," Wolfe said. "It's going to be a huge lineup."

While it's the first time they are being shown off in Utah, these jets aren't just for show.

“We don't modify the airplanes, take out any sensors anything. Like, this airplane could go to war tomorrow with bombs in it,” Beo said. "We've got like about 78 tails [fighters] on the ramp out here, and so we can take any single one of those and do the exact same show that we just showed you.”

Wolfe has flown the F-16 Falcon/Viper, the F-22 Raptor, and now the F-35 Lightning II.

“I love this airplane because it's the newest, latest, and greatest. You know, when you kind of get into your habit patterns and pretty focused on the maneuvers,” she said about the F-35A Lightning II. “You're the only person in the airplane; The airplane does whatever you want it to do. It's like flying a roller coaster.”

“We're the first active-duty base in the United States Air Force that has truly capable F 35s that can go to war,” added Kevin Ireland, the executive director of the Utah Airshow Foundation, adding how exciting it will be to see their pride and joy at Hill fly over a home crowd.

Ireland also knows how difficult it has been.

He said the last four years have been tough because the show relied on the 2020 show to raise funds.

"It was a hit to our pocketbooks," Ireland said. "We planned this show almost two years out. And we were within 90 days of launching the show, and then it got canceled.”

But he added that they were going to make 2022 work, and now the show is just three weeks away.

For those pilots in the sky like Wolfe, it's going to be an exciting first opportunity to inspire a home crowd.

“That's the rewarding part, honestly — for me, and as well as the team maintainers, to see the impact that we get to have,” she said. "Just to get kids, especially young kids, excited to fill our shoes one day."

The show will take place all day on June 25 and 26th. Entrance is free, and Ireland recommends attendees take the train to Hill AFB.

The USAF Thunderbirds will also put on a performance during the show. The full schedule is forthcoming.

More information can be found on the air show's website.