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Lightning Ride: Air Force Lt. Col. James Kromberg on Wednesday became the first USAF and non-contractor pilot to fly the F-35. Kromberg, director of operations with the 461st Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, Calif., flew aircraft AA-1, the first F-35 test aircraft, during a test sortie on Jan. 30 at Lockheed Martin’s facility at NAS Fort Worth, Tex. “The aircraft was responsive across all flight regimes,” Kromberg said of his flight, which included handling qualities maneuvers, engine throttle transients, and formation maneuvers with an F-16. “The engine thrust response was excellent—accelerating very quickly. The aircraft was very stable during formation flight.” Kromberg is an experienced Air Force and Marine Corps pilot with more than 3,200 flight hours in platforms like the F-15, F-16, and AV-8B. He has been part of the F-35 Lightning II test team since September 2005, having assisted in drafting the F-35’s initial flight manual, test plans, and aircrew training procedures. Prior to stepping in AA-1, he trained in the F-35 flight simulator. AA-1 made its inaugural flight in December 2006. It has been in flight tests intermittently since then. The F-35 is scheduled to arrive at Edwards for further flight tests this spring. (USAF report by SrA. Julius Delos Reyes)