Meet the 65 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Test Pilots

Tech. Sgt. Brian West, of the 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, marshals in DOD's newest aircraft, the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter to a stop at its new home at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 14. West is the crew chief for the first F-35. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

Ever wondered just who is flying those F-35 Joint Strike Fighters you keep hearing so much about?

Well, it turns out contractor Lockheed Martin has published the names of the 65 men (so far) who have piloted the most expensive piece of equipment in DoD history.

The list, featured on the website for Lockheed’s “Code One” magazine, comes complete with photos of each pilot. Each man has a designation showing their seniority in the program, from “Lightning 1” (chief test pilot Jon Beesley, who took off on December 15 2006) to “Lightning 65” (USAF Lt. Col. Marco Parzych, who first took the JSF up on November 19th of this year).

Lockheed spokeswoman Laura Siebert told Intercepts that the list has been continously updated over the past year.

“The roster was set up in Code One, with the help of our customer, to engender an esprit de corps within the F-35 community and to underscore progress on the program,” Siebert said.

One name should be familiar to regular Intercepts readers: USAF Maj. Joe Scholtz, aka “Lightning 57,” who in October became the first outside pilot to fully complete his training on the Defense Department’s prize jet.

Going through the list, it’s notable how the number of pilots has increased in just the last few months. 33 of the 65 pilots took their maiden voyage in 2012; 20 of those have come since the start of October.

You can see the full list by clicking here.


Aaron Mehta

Aaron Mehta

Air Warfare Correspondent at Defense News
Aaron covers the Air Force for Defense News. In his spare time, he tweets about the Air Force for Defense News. Follow him @AaronMehta
Aaron Mehta