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F-35B does 40-knot flight and four slow landings in one day

March 11, 2010 (by Bjørnar Bolsøy) - It was a good day of flying at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, as two F-35B jets took to the skies no less than six times on Wednesday, March 10.

The first Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter passes overhead at 40 knots (46 mph) prior to a slow landing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River on Wednesday, March 10th. The flight was one of the last missions before the aircraft's first vertical landing and confirmed the jet's power and controllability at very low speeds. F-35 Lead STOVL pilot Graham Tomlinson was at the controls for Wednesday's flight. [USNavy photo by Randy Hepp]

Marking its 40th flight BF-1, the first STOVL jet, accomplished four takeoffs, three hot pit refuelings and four slow landings - paving the way for vertical landing. Piloted by lead STOVL pilot Graham Tomlinson, the jet was airborne at 11:01 a.m. ET and completed pattern work at 110 and 100 knots before making a 110-knot slow landing. BF-1 then taxied to the hot pit area and refueled, and was airborne again at 12:07 p.m. where it accomplished pattern work at 80 knots before making a 90-knot slow landing. The jet completed another hot pit refueling and was airborne at 1:03 p.m., performing pattern work at 60 knots before a 70-knot slow landing. After a final refueling, BF-1 was airborne at 2:02 p.m. and accomplished pattern work at 60, 50 and 40 knots before a slow landing at 75 knots groundspeed. The total flight time was 1.4 hours. It officially counts as one test flight as the engine was not shut down between landings.

Topping it up for the day BF-3, the third F-35B jet, flew twice completing 10 uptempo sorties since its maiden flight just five weeks ago. Royal Air Force Sqd. Ldr. Steve Long flew BF-3 for a one hour flight followed by a 1.2 hour sortie by the program's latest pilot addition, U.S. Marine Corps pilot Lt. Col Fred Schenk. Schenk is also the second USMC pilot to have flown the F-35.

Courtesy of Lockheed Martin

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Additional images:

USMC BF-01 Initial Transition flight at NAS Patuxent River, MD. Mr. Graham Tomlinson is the Test Pilot. First time the STOVL lift system (MODE 4) has been engaged in flight. [LM photo by Andy Wolfe]