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F-22 Raptor Demonstration Prepares for Thunderous Airshow Season

The Air Force F-22 Raptor will visit 23 show sites across America in 2019. (Charles Atkeison

LANGLEY, VA — The nation’s popular fifth-generation fighter aircraft will launch into a new air show season in March with a busy schedule highlighted by popular visits across America.

The F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team pilot for 2019 is Major Paul “Loco” Lopez. The upcoming air show season will mark his second and final season as the F-22 Demo Team’s commander and pilot.

Major Lopez, will perform a nearly 30-minute flight at the air show sites demonstrating the handling characteristics of the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world.

As a child growing up in Virginia Beach, Maj. Lopez would stand outside his home watching the Navy’s F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18 Hornets train in the skies from nearby Naval Air Station Oceania. As the Raptor Demo Team’s first African-American pilot, he knows that the youth of today look up to him as a role model.

“I always tell (children) to be enthusiastic to learn,” Maj. Lopez continued. “If you are enthusiastic to learn, people will bend over backwards to help you achieve your goals and reach your dreams.”Maj. Lopez will help bring the Air Force past together with the newest fighter aircraft as he performs the crowd-favorite Heritage Flight with the historic P-51 Mustang during many of the air shows the Raptor team attends.

“Every kid dreams about flying a P-51, let alone flying in a formation with a P-51. This was the workhouse of WWII — look at the history of the Tuskegee Airman, flying with the Red Tails,” Maj. Lopez said from the flightline. “It’s just a phenomenal aircraft.”

The business end of the Raptor are twin Pratt and Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with afterburners and two-dimensional thrust vectoring nozzles, Maj. Lopez noted. The $145 million (2016) aircraft can carry up to 18,000 pounds of fuel within its internal tanks to fuel up to 70,000 pounds of thrust combined.

The F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team poised with a P-51 Mustang in 2018. (USAF)

At many of the air shows the demo team visits, you will likely find Loco walking behind the flightline meeting and greeting guests in the hours prior to his demonstration. The pilot’s social involvement with the crowds is a rare treat which becomes their photo moment of the year for many he meets.

“Hopefully, at air shows, we are able to inspire people to pursue their passions, chase their dreams, and turn those dreams into reality,” Loco said with a firm nod. “Hopefully you get a chance to see the aircraft fly.”

2019 Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Schedule:

March 23/24 ………. Davis-Monthan AFB Thunder and Lightning over Arizona

March 31/30 ………. Travis AFB, CA Open House and Air Show

April 27/28 ………… MCAS Beaufort, SC Air Show

May 4/5 ……………… Fort Lauderdale, FL Air Show

June 6 ……………….. Bedford, VA D-Day 75th Anniversary Aerial Tribute (Heritage Flight only)

June 15/16 …………. Whiteman AFB, MO Air Show

June 22 ……………… Fairchild AFB, WA Inland Northwest Skyfest

June 29/30 …………. Traverse City, MI National Cherry Festival Air Show

July 4-7 ……………… Battle Creek, MI Field of Flight Air Show and Balloon Festival

July 4 …………………. Racine, WI (Heritage Flight only)

July 6 …………………. Goshen, IN (Heritage Flight only)

July 13 ……………….. Eielson AFB, AK Open House

July 22-28 …………… Oshkosh, WI (Heritage Flight only)

July 27/28 …………… Milwaukee, WI (Heritage Flight only)

August 17/18 ………. Chicago, IL Air and Water Show

August 24/25 ………. Rochester, NY International Air Show

September 7/8 ……. Chesterfield, MO Spirit of St. Louis Air Show

September 14/15 … Dover AFB, DE Open House and Air Show

September 21/22 … Colorado Springs, CO Southern Colorado Regional Airshow

September 28/29 … Robins AFB, GA Thunder over Georgia Air Show

October 19/20 …….. Fort Worth, TX Alliance Air Show

November 2/3 ……. Moody AFB, GA Open House Air Show

November 15-17 … Nellis AFB, NV Aviation Nation 2019

(Charles A Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates via social media @Military_Flight.)

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Charles Atkeison

Written by Charles Atkeison

Charles A Atkeison is a long time aerospace journalist having covered both military and civilian aviation, plus 30 space shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral. He has produced multimedia aerospace content for CNN, London's Sky News, radio, print, and the web for twenty years. From flying with his father at age 5 to soaring as a VIP recently with the Navy's Blue Angels and USAF Thunderbirds, Charles continues to enjoy all aspects of flight.

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