January 22, 2009 (by MSgt. Anthony Davis) - Pilots from the 94th Fighter Squadron flew patrols in the F-22A Raptor over the nation's capital during Inauguration Day activities Jan. 20.
Capt. Brian Stahl, 94th FS F-22A Raptor pilot, secures airspace over the Inauguration Day events during an Operation Noble Eagle mission on January 20th, 2009. Langley pilots secured the skies while President Barack Obama was sworn into office as the 44th president of the United States. [USAF photo]
The Operation Noble Eagle missions were part of the overall security provided while President Barack Obama was sworn into office as the 44th president of the United States.
"It was a great honor," said Brigadier General Mark Barrett, 1st Fighter Wing commander. "But for us, it's a coming of age for this weapon system. For all the airmen that support, fix, and fly this airplane, it's been a tremendous journey since the very first F-22 arrived here a little over three years ago."
The event provided an opportunity for the F-22 to show its capabilities, and it was the first inauguration since the F-22 reached full operational capability in December 2007.
Four pilots and Raptors secured the airspace over the event for more than nine hours.
"One of the neat things about the F-22 is that we were plugged in to all the ground stations, all the airborne assets, everybody," said General Barrett, who was one of the four pilots. "We had as good a picture as anybody could possibly have of all the things that were going on in the National Capital Region."
"It's one of those things you'll remember for the rest of your life," said Capt. Brian Stahl, an F-22 pilot with the 94th FS
, "It was definitely an honor."
The pilots witnessed the event from altitude and each gained a different perspective from the experience.
"Every generation has a 'Where were you when . . .' moment," said Capt. Brian Nash, 94th FS. "I've got a couple of them, one was September 11 and the other was this inauguration. I can tell my kids, my grandkids where I was during the inauguration of President Barack Obama."