FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Seven American F-35's along with three from Australia have been flying up at Eielson for the past couple weeks. Assistant Director of Operations with the 61st Fighter Squadron, Major Fernando Perez says their
Seven American F-35's along with three from Australia have been flying up at Eielson for the past couple weeks. (Sara Tewksbury/KTVF)
pilots are flying at Eielson for a few reasons, “what we're doing is basically validating that Eielson Air Force Base can fly a large number of F-35's out of the base, also validating that we can operate in a joint environment with our Australian partners in the pacific theatre of operation against the advanced threats that are here at Eielson with the aggressors and all the emitters on the range," said Perez. Perez says they were also working to graduate six student pilots and a couple instructor pilots while they were training up at Eielson. One of those student pilots, First Lieutenant Taylor Hulslander, says it has been a dream to fly the F-35. "I've always wanted to be a fighter pilot, and just being in a fighter squadron and getting to do things that you've dreamed of for a long time now, has been a dream, and then on top of that, flying fast is always a good time," said Hulslander. Hulslander also says training up in Alaska has been a blast. "Number one just flying up in Alaska in such a beautiful place has been phenomenal and over the range down south, but also just the training we've got has been phenomenal, leaps and bounds ahead of the air space down south in Arizona, just with the emitters and red air, the scenarios have been a blast," said Hulslander. "Alaska is beautiful, it's been phenomenal to get to fly here and check out the local area and I think the F-35 is going to do really well up here," said Perez. Eielson will become home to 54 F-35's with the first one arriving in April of 2020.
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