Lt. Col. James "Flipper" Kromberg of the U.S. Air Force became the first military service pilot to evaluate the F-35 Lightning II, taking the aircraft through a series of maneuvers Wednesday on its 26th flight.
Kromberg took off from Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth plant at 11:54 a.m. CST, flew the plane to 6,000 feet and checked handling qualities at 15-degrees angle of attack. He then climbed to 10,000 and 12,000 feet assessing the up-and-away flight-control response. Kromberg also tested the F-35's engine performance and formation-flying characteristics.
"The aircraft flew very well, exceeding my expectations," Kromberg said. "I was surprised by the amount of power on the takeoff roll. And the handling, particularly with the gear up, was phenomenal.