By Senior Airman Kathryn ReavesMarch 8, 2019
Members of the Air Combat Command F-16 Viper Demonstration Team attended the 2019 Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Feb. 26 to March 4.
Air Force and civilian demonstration pilots used the course to prepare for the 2019 air show season, during which they are expected to perform flights showcasing military air power history through formations of modern and vintage aircraft.
The F-16 VDT accomplished a total of 22 flights during the training, many of which were in F-16Ds, or two-seat variants.
This model provided a unique advantage over the one-seat, F-16CM, version and allowed the team to target one of their goals: retention of skilled Airmen in the Air Force.
"What I've strived for and pushed a lot this season was for us to be able to bring up maintainers from the other ACC demo teams and put them in the back of an F-16," said Master Sgt. Chris Schneider, F-16 VDT superintendent. "A lot of those teams only have single-seat aircraft, so their Airmen would normally never get the opportunity to fly in an active military fighter jet."
The F-16 VDT provided a total of 18 familiarization and incentive flights to other demonstration team Airmen, heritage flight pilots and community leaders over four days of flying.
One of the Airmen who was able to receive a flight was Staff Sgt. Annemarie Prozzillo, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team aircrew flight equipment specialist.
"My ride in the F-16 was phenomenal," said Prozzillo. "It was absolutely inspiring. Seeing the world from a different perspective was humbling and thinking about all of the engineering that goes into producing a fighter aircraft was eye-opening to the dedication and passion people have for innovation. I would gladly accept another ride and I felt honored to be part of the incentive flight program."
Prozzillo was also responsible for ensuring other riders were properly geared for their flights.
The other individuals relied heavily on the equipment when they pulled over 9 Gs, she said, so it showed them why her job was so important. It left her feeling good knowing she helped give others an experience of a lifetime.
In addition to flying and supporting maintenance operations, HFTC participates practiced media interviews, interacted with Davis-Monthan team members, and learned narrating techniques as well as about Air Force Recruiting efforts.
"This is the only week every year that all the demo teams are together to work hand and hand, collaborate and bring new ideas to the table," said Schneider. "We worked through a new heritage profile and narration script together as a team that will be showcased in the 2019 season, and laid a foundation for a successful year."
The demonstration teams are scheduled to perform at aerial demonstration events across the world, showcasing Air Force capabilities, sharing their experiences and doing their part to inspire the next generation of Airmen and aviators.