F-35 pilot to speak to Aero Club

Gary Vacin

An F-35 pilot from Luke Air Force Base will be guest speaker at the Sun Lakes Aero Club gathering Monday, December 18, at the Sun Lakes Country Club. The session begins with coffee and fellowship at 6:30 p.m., followed by the presentation at 7:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend. Maj. Peter Cossette will describe his experiences flying the F-35, which has become the primary fighter aircraft in the Air Force inventory.

In 1997, Lockheed Martin was selected as one of two companies to participate in the Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstration phase. In October, 2001, the Lockheed Martin X-35 was chosen as the winner of the competition. The first production F-35A rolled out of the assembly at Fort Worth, Texas, in February, 2006. Later that year, the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was named the Lightning II, in homage to two earlier fighters. In December of 2006, the F-35 completed its first flight.

The first production F-35 conducted its first flight in February of 2001. The 56th Fighter Wing received its first F-35A in 2014, and training in the aircraft began shortly thereafter. Eventually, the 56th Fighter Wing will be home to 144 F-35s.

Formed in 1996, the Sun Lakes Aero Club gathers the third Monday of each month at the Sun Lakes Country Club, November through April, featuring speakers on a wide range of aviation-related topics. Additional information is available by visiting the club’s website, http://sunlakesaeroclub.org, or by calling Cannon Hill at 509-539-7857 or Gary Vacin at 480-298-7017. v