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F-16 “First Flight” 50th Anniversary
On Jan. 25, 2024, Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) will roar with excitement as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the mighty F-16 Fighting Falcon, Alert 5 reports. This iconic aircraft, known for its sleek design and unparalleled agility, has revolutionized air combat and continues to serve as a vital weapon in the US Air Force (USAF) arsenal.
The F-16 “First Flight” 50th Anniversary Celebration will be hosted by the 416th Flight Test Squadron.
The 50th anniversary celebration at Edwards AFB promises to be a spectacle for the ages. Prepare for adrenaline-pumping aerial demonstrations by the awe-inspiring US Air Force Thunderbirds and the skilled Air Combat Command (ACC) F-16 Demo Team. But the excitement doesn’t end there.
In fact, the F-16 50th Celebration will also have static displays of F-16XL, the first F-16B, the X-62A VISTA, the Thunderbirds, Navy Aggressors, & more than 40 F-16s from around the country that will be flying in to be a part of our celebration. Furthermore, there will be STEM simulators and activities, F-16 engine and weapons displays, museum and history displays, 50th Anniversary memorabilia, the Blue Eagles Honor Guard.
Beyond the breathtaking displays, the event will honor the heroes who made the F-16 a legend. Guest speakers like retired General Gary “Nordo” North, who achieve the first F-16 air-to-air kill, veterans of countless missions and two Desert Storm POWs will share their stories of courage and dedication.
The F-16 First Flight
Phil Oestricher was the test pilot.
As Oestricher explained later, he was conducting high-speed taxi tests, the aircraft lifted off the runway, and rather than risking damage to the aircraft, Oestricher elected to lift off and go around to come in for a normal landing.
The first “official” flight was made on Feb. 2.
On Jan. 13, 1975 at Edwards AFB, Secretary of the Air Force John L. McLucas announced that the YF-16 had won the Lightweight Fighter (LWF) competition over the Northrop YF-17 for full scale development as the USAF’s next Air Combat Fighter.
The LWF program sought a small, lightweight, low cost, air superiority day fighter designed for high performance and ease of maintenance. The LWF was initiated because many in the fighter community believed that aircraft like the F-15 Eagle were too large and expensive for many combat roles.
The F-16A, a single-seat model, first flew in December 1976. The first operational F-16A was delivered in January 1979 to the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon achieved combat-ready status in Oct. 1980. Since then many foreign nations, including Belgium, Denmark, Turkey, Egypt and Israel, have purchased the F-16.
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin and U.S. Air Force