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'Most feared aircraft in the world': F-22 Raptor demonstrates prowess

Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors from the 95th Fighter Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly over the Baltic Sea, Sept. 4, 2015.

JASON ROBERTSON/U.S. AIR FORCE

By KATHERINE HAFNER | The Virginian-Pilot | Published: February 4, 2017

HAMPTON (Tribune News Service) — The “most feared aircraft in the world” took to the gray morning skies Friday above Langley Air Force Base, doing flips, turns and slides to showcase its prowess.

Despite the cold, cadets from Virginia Tech craned their necks to watch the F-22 Raptor as the announcer, Technical Sgt. James Fleming, called out the moves.

“We will show you its raw power,” Fleming said as Major Dan “Rock” Dickinson, the only official demo pilot for the F-22 in the Air Force, flew by and straight up.

The show was a final rehearsal before the team leaves for a training course in Arizona next week. The demo team is made up of Dickinson and 11 ground support members.

The F-22 Raptor can move at almost twice the speed of sound and propels upward with a thrust of 70,000 pounds.

The fighter jets are the most expensive ever built, at about $412 million apiece, according to the Government Accountability Office. Only 188 exist.

Master Sgt. Delmont Benjamin, who oversees the demo team’s operations, said what’s most important about the F-22 is its intense stealth and ammunition capacity. That’s what makes it the most feared, he said.

And unlike some jets in air shows, these F-22s are prepared at a moment’s notice to go into combat.

The team was rehearsing for the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight program, which travels around showcasing “the evolution of Air Force air power” by flying modern fighter aircraft along with vintage ones, according to a news release.

Some of what spectators can expect from the F-22: 360-degree flat spins called “pedal turns,” a “tail slide” where Dickinson flies up and then backward on the way down, power loops and more.

The air shows “are going to bring a lot of speed, a lot of noise that’s going to get you really fired up,” Benjamin said.

Air show season runs from March through November. The first stop is Australia.

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©2017 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)
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