The Secrets Of Showcasing An F-35 Stealth Fighter

Captain Kristin "Beo" Wolfe tells Forces News what an F-35 Lightning stealth fighter can do at an air show.

The Lightning stealth fighter is a firm favourite at air shows around the world.

US Air Force Captain Kristin "Beo" Wolfe, the F-35A Demo Team pilot for the 2020 and 2021 air demonstration season, shared some of the top moves used by the US pilots.

Opposing Rolls Pass

To perform the Opposing Rolls Pass, Captain Wolfe enters at 400 knots and 300 feet above the ground.

"I pop the nose up slightly, execute an unloaded full lateral stick roll, ending upright after 360 degrees of roll," she explained.

She immediately reverses the roll in the other direction "and then finally one more roll in the opposite direction".

Pedal Turn

The Pedal Turn is "one of the more impressive manoeuvres that shows off the flight control system on the F-35", Captain Wolfe said.

"After pulling the nose the pure vertical, I pull the stick full aft, and laterally left or right, in the direction of the Pedal Turn.

"I simultaneously put full pedal in the direction of the turn as well, which commands yaw from the flight control computers."

Based on those commands from the stick and pedal, the F-35's flight control logic determines "the best combination of flight control surfaces to execute this high AOA and maximum yaw manoeuvre".

Half Cuban Eight

This move is aimed at showing the jet's "impressive manoeuvrability immediately after take-off" as it is heavyweight.

"After accelerating to 350 knots, I pull the nose to 60 degrees nose high and then at 2,000 feet above the ground, I pull the stick full aft to command maximum nose rotation over the top of the manoeuvre.

"As the jet is now pointing downhill, I roll upright again, completing half of a figure eight toward show centre," Captain Wolfe explained.

Hence the name: Half Cuban Eight.

High Speed Pass

The High Speed Pass happens at approximately 650 knots or 750 miles per hour, "just below the speed of sound at 0.95 Mach".

"After passing the crowd, I pull the nose to pure vertical for the quick climb, rapidly decelerating to 150 knots and climbing over 10,000 feet in just a few seconds", the US Air Force pilot said.

Weapons Bay Door Pass

Captain Wolfe said that, depending on the mission, it is important for pilots of F-35s to maintain the aircraft's stealthy signature.

"We have all the weapons inside the weapons bays," she said.

"This pass simply gives the crowd a glimpse inside the weapons bays, which can each fit a 2,000 pound bomb and an air-to-air missile, the AMRAAM."

I To I

Also known as the Inverted to Inverted Pass, the I to I is an upside down pass straight and level in front of the crowd.

"Starting at 300 feet above ground, I pop the nose up slightly and then perform an unloaded roll until wings level inverted.

"I push the stick forward to maintain level flight inverted, which equates to -1G, which means I'm hanging upside down in the seat straps," the pilot explained.

Cover image: US Department of Defense.