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Warlords conduct first night flights

By Cpl. Sarah Cherry | Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort | March 6, 2015


A pastel sunset painted the sky in pinks, oranges and blues as Maj. Paul Holst, an instructor pilot with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, flies into Beaufort skies to conduct an F-35B Lightning II night flight for the first time in Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and VMFAT- 501 history, March 2.

The sun goes down, and the sides and tail of the jet glow brightly as the wingtip lights flash.

"The [F-35s] are impressive machines to fly at night," said Lt. Col. Jospeh T. Bachmann, commanding officer of VMFAT-501.

Pilots conducted the night flights throughout this week to determine how to teach the capabilities to new pilots, said Bachmann.

"The F-35B performed perfectly," said Holst. "This demonstrates that the aircraft is maturing in the way we’re expecting it to. We’re on our way to where we need to go."

Holst said flying at night is very similar to flying during the day, with a few key exceptions.

"All the systems and lighting in the airplane are different at night," said Holst. "There are fewer outside references, and things happen a little faster so you have to pay more attention to your sensors."

VMFAT-501 is the Marine Corps’ only F-35B training squadron, and is responsible for training F-35B pilots from all services to include international students.