FRC East, dignitaries celebrate F-35 arrival at Cherry Point

Published: Monday, July 15, 2013 at 05:08 PM.

“It’s very, very common on airplanes when we first bring them into the fleet to fly them that we do those kinds of modifications,” he said.

Eventually, more F-35 work will be coming to FRC East, with six new stalls for the aircraft expected by 2015.

“We’re going to be in this airplane for another 40 or 50 years, so we’re just delighted to be able to start this modification process here at Cherry Point,” Schmidle said.

Lt. Col. Steve C. Gillette, of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501, flew the F-35 unescorted from Elgin Air Force Base in Florida to Cherry Point on July 9, landing at 10 a.m. on Runway 23 Right, sneaking into the base from over the Neuse River with the first-ever landing of the new jet at the base.

“It’s a fantastically performing airplane,” Gillette said. “It’s very easy to interpret and fight the airplane. Every time I get out of that airplane, I’m grinning ear to ear.”

Schmidle went one step further.

“It’s the finest airplane of its type on the planet,” he said.

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