‘Trial by Flag’ for new F-35A pilots

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) — The desert screams by below. The clouds scream by above. Both stretch on into the horizon. It’s deceptively calm in the cockpit. There’s a constant, seemingly discordant stream of chatter coming through his helmet. The digital screens in front of him, along with images projected onto his visor, provide enough information to save lives and take a few as well. In the sky ahead are more than 60 advanced enemy aircraft, flown by some of the best fighter pilots in the world. They are hunting—looking to kill him and his wingmen. He just graduated pilot training. Welcome to Red Flag.

“I haven’t been flying that long. There are things that stand out in my career. My first solo flight, my first F-35 flight and my first Red Flag mission. I don’t

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