Mon, Aug 13, 2012
Maj. Jay Spohn First To Qualify To Teach Others To Fly The JSF
An Airman became the Guard's first F-35 Lightning II instructor pilot recently at Eglin's multi-service, multi-national F-35 Integrated Training Center. Maj. Jay Spohn, assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing as the assistant director of operations for the 58th Fighter Squadron and the chief of standards and evaluation for the 33rd Operations Group, successfully flew his final of six flights Aug. 3 becoming fully qualified and able to teach follow-on pilots to fly the F-35A.
"It felt really good," said Spohn about the flight. "It's what they hired me to do; today's flight was the culmination of two and a half years of hard work."
Spohn was selected in November, 2009 to be part of the initial F-35A cadre and help develop the syllabus for flight training. On March 6 the first F-35A flight took place at Eglin, with an F-35 instructor pilot at the controls. Then on May 3, the wing was issued clearance to fly initial cadre "non-test" pilots, which opened the doors to the rest of 58th Fighter Squadron operators to begin qualifying as F-35A instructor pilots.
Being able to add more F-35A pilots to the ranks gives Spohn a sense of satisfaction. "I think everyone feels that same excitement ... it feels good to be contributing," he said.
Spohn is scheduled to train another 58th FS pilot, Lt. Col. Michael Ebner on the same five instructional sorties and one check ride Spohn helped develop as initial cadre and then flew as a student of his own curriculum.
Spohn will soon be sharing the skies not only with the U.S. Marines and Navy but the British and Dutch as well and he said he looks forward to training with the partner nations. "It is always a tremendous opportunity, both personally and professionally, to train with pilots that have a different background than you," said Spohn. "I hope my A-10 and F-15C background allows me to bring something unique to the table that will make the Dutch students better and I know that their vast fighter experience will make me a better IP and F-35 pilot."
(Image provided by the USAF)
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