Heritage Flight Training Course 2023

During the first days of March, display pilots of all four Air Combat Command (ACC) single-ship demonstration teams of the United States Air Force met together at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. There, the US airmen participated in annual Heritage Flight Training Course to prepare themselves for the upcoming 2023 air show season.

If you had a chance to visit any of the main aviation events held in the USA in the past decades, you have probably seen a flying display performed by the ´Heritage Flight´ formation. The heritage programme was officially launched by the USAF in March of 1997, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the air force.

Within that unique activity, the four ACC solo display teams of A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-16 Viper, F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II fly their displays together with civilian-owned warbirds from the World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War era, such as P-51D Mustang, P-38 Lightning, P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt and F-86 Sabre.

A Thunderbolt II from the A-10 Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team sits on the flight line at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (USAF photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Stephens)

Since 2001, the military and civilian pilots who  perform the joint displays have to participate in the annual flight academy known as the Heritage Flight Training Course. The training ensures their certification to fly safely in such a demanding and unique formations where the 5th generation jets merge with the World War II propeller-powered aircraft. Completing the course states a confirmation they are ready to perform together during national and international aviation events for the upcoming season.

´Aviation safety is an important factor for our demonstration teams,´ said Capt. Sky Lesh, Heritage Flight Training Course 2022 project officer. ´This allows the public to enjoy what these teams are capable of, and learn about the Air Force’s heritage and mission

During the regular air show season, the Heritage Flight performs approximately twenty joint displays, presenting in a very interesting manner the past and present of the US Air Force.

A Raptor from the F-22 Demonstration and Heritage Flight Team taxis on the flight line at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Jhade Herrera)

Cover photo: A U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II flies alongside an F-22 Raptor during the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., March 2, 2023. (USAF photo by Airman 1st Class Jhade Herrera)
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