First Dutch pilot flies F-35 Lightning II

Major Laurens Jan Vijge took F-001 to the air on Wednesday 18 December, becoming to first Dutch pilot to fly the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II. (Image © Ministerie van Defensie)
Major Laurens Jan Vijge took F-001 to the air on Wednesday 18 December, becoming to first Dutch pilot to fly the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II. (Image © Ministerie van Defensie)

The first Royal Netherlands Air Force pilot flew the F-35 Lightning II on Wednesday 18 December from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, the Dutch MoD reports. Major Laurens Jan Vijge took off in RNLAF F-35 with serial F-001 and was joined in the air by an American instructor pilot flying another F-35. Only last September, the Dutch government decided on buying 37 F-35A Lightning II fighters after years of hesitation.

Eglin is currently home to a Dutch detachment learning to fly and maintain the new aircraft. Among the Dutch personnel are four pilots. The major’s commentary after landing F-001 back a Eglin after the seventy minute flight: “Fantastic! What a great plane to fly. It’s like driving a new car for the first time and knowing ‘it’s the one’. A milestone!”

The Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu) now owns two F-35s: F-001 and F-002. Both were delivered earlier this year at the Lockheed Martin factory at Fort Worth, and were transferred afterwards to Eglin. The aircraft will relocate eventually to Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Laurens Jan Vijge is a happy man. (Image © Ministerie van Defensie)
Laurens Jan Vijge is a happy man. (Image © Ministerie van Defensie)

Source: Ministerie van Defensie with additional reporting by AIRheads’ Elmer van Hest

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