The F-35 Lightning II may have its fair share of critics — but a short video that recently hit Instagram shows it’s also got some amazing moves.
A clip of Capt. Andrew “Dojo” Olson, commander of the F-35 Demonstration Team at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, pulling off some jaw-dropping maneuvers was posted Jan. 9 by Instagram user theromanticjaguar and soon reposted by Olson on his own page. The video first shows Olson executing a vertical climb in his F-35 before turning sharply into a tight loop.
After completing the loop, Olson takes the F-35 into a slow, controlled flat spin, allowing the advanced fighter jet to turn around once in a spiral while dropping. Having successfully fallen out of the sky, he then takes himself out of the spin and resumes flying, briefly rolling his plane to the left in almost a tip of the hat to his audience.
The entire maneuver appears effortless. And just that short clip suggests that when the F-35 demo team’s full performance is unveiled to the public, jaws will drop.
Luke announced in a Dec. 4 release that its F-35 Heritage Flight Team would become the F-35 Demonstration Team for the 2019 show season.
In that release, Olson said 2018 demonstrations were an “appetizer,” and that the 2019 flights would present “the full five-course meal showing fans everything this jet is capable of.”
Olson said last month that the 13-minute long demonstration will highlight the F-35′s speed, agility, and high-g turning. He also teased the “controlled flat spins while falling out of the sky,” high-speed passes and vertical climbs shown in last week’s video.
“What makes the fifth-generation fighter so special in general is the slow-speed, high angle of attack maneuvering it can do,” Olson said. “The show we’re going to bring to fans is unlike anything they’ve ever seen, and I really believe it’s going to set a benchmark for the demonstrations performed by any airplane on the planet.”
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.