Blasting Into The future: VMFA-122 Jets Forward During Its First Official F-35B Flight

DVIDS // April 02, 2018

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz., (March 29, 2018) – It was like a scene from Top Gun as pilots marched out to the flight line to mount the metal beast known as the F-35B Lightning II. Pilots entered their cockpits, started the engines and prepared for takeoff. As the final tests were completed, the jets taxied out, gained speed and took to the sky as history was made.

Photo credit: Sgt. Allison Lotz

Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 122, “The Flying Leathernecks,” conducted their first flight operations in the F-35B Lightning II at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, March 29, 2018. This marked the end of the first phase in the transition from a legacy F/A-18C Hornet squadron to an F-35B squadron.

“This was a critical moment for us because it got the ball rolling for us to have a fully operational squadron,” said Lt. Col. John P. Price, the commanding officer of VMFA-122.

VMFA-122, originally based at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, arrived at MCAS Yuma in October 2017.

“It highlights the flexibility and agility that we have inside the Marine Corps to accomplish the mission,” said Price. “We have a lot of great Marines and Sailors here from Yuma and all over the Marine Corps. It’s truly impressive how quickly it was put together."

There were various tests and procedures that the “Flying Leathernecks” needed to conduct and pass just to get to this stage of their transition, including the assumption of command and posting of the sergeant major.

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