June 2, 2008 (by Amn Sondra M. Wieseler) - More than 200 members of Team Holloman gathered Monday to welcome the first two F-22A Raptors as they taxied into Hangar 301 here at 2:49 p.m., making June 2 a day to remember in 49'er history.
An F-22 Raptor flown by Col. Jeff Harrigian, 49th FW, arrives on Holloman AFB, June 2nd, 2008. This is one of the first F-22s assigned to Holloman. Prior to landing, the jets flew over the Tularosa Basin, the community had the chance to witness the future of Holloman AFB.
The Air Force announced in March 2006 that Holloman was one of the preferred bases to receive the F-22A Raptor, and after much anticipation, it has arrived.
The F-22's, the first two to feature the Holloman tail flash, HO, were flown in by 49th Fighter Wing commander, Col. Jeff "Cobra" Harrigian and 7th Fighter Squadron commander Lt. Col. Mike "PigPen" Hernandez.
"It's a big day. We're very proud to have the aircraft finally here," said Colonel Hernandez. "The F-22 is the finest fighter in the world. It is by far better than anything else that is out there and better than anything on anyone's drawings board. We're very lucky."
Colonel Harrigian said that flying the F-22 is a great feeling and he hopes the whole base is just as excited about its arrival as he is.
"I was fortunate to have the opportunity to fly in one of the two jets," said Colonel Harrigian. "This will be recorded in Holloman's history forever."
Many onlookers had never seen an aircraft like the F-22A Raptor and were impressed by its presentation.
"I've seen [the F-22] used in a couple movies and I always thought it was a very cool and very sleek jet all around," said Staff Sgt. Roland Vigne, 49th Materiel Maintenance Support Squadron." It's a great opportunity to be stationed on one of only four bases getting it."
"I'm really proud of what everyone did to make this happen," said Colonel Harrigian. "Everyone came together and managed to make us 'Raptor Ready' in a short period of time. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but we will be ready by the time we need to be."
Over the next six months, the aircraft will be flown occasionally but a whole lot of training behind the scenes will be going on, said Colonel Hernandez. More aircraft will begin to roll in the first of the year and the goal is to be operationally ready by Nov 1, 2009.
The official ceremony for the arrival is scheduled for June 6, where the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Michael T. Moseley, will make a presentation.