While many will be lucky enough to actually see a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor in flight at an air show, few will ever get the chance to experience what it is like from within the cockpit of the fifth-generation air superiority fighter.
Fortunately, the United States Air Force provided the next best thing with a video featuring Maj. Joshua “Cabo” Gunderson, F-22 Demo Team pilot and commander, performing a number of demonstrations at the Space Coast International Air Show, on May 22, 2022.
The F-22 Raptor Demo Team performs at air shows across the globe as a way to highlight the Raptor’s capabilities. It demonstrations include the crowd-pleasing power loop, split and tail slide, as well as high-speed passes and dedication passes—maneuvers that are based on those designed for combat operations but are performed at much lower altitudes than most pilots are certified to fly.
The aerobatic display team has flown the F-22 since 2007 when the Air Force approved the aircraft for demonstration, and this replaced the Air Combat Command’s F-15C demonstration team. The team participated in its debut air show at Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) in March 2007, and since that time has performed in more than 250 demonstrations across the world.
The U.S. Air Force F-22 is widely regarded as the most dominant fighter in the world. The F-22 Raptor is especially respected for its dogfighting ability and air-to-air maneuverability attributes which many contend separately it into a superior category compared with any other potential rival. The aircraft’s dual engines produce more thrust than any current fighter engine, while the sophisticated F-22 aero design, advanced flight controls, thrust vectoring, and high thrust-to-weight ratio provide the capability to outmaneuver all other current and projected aircraft.
Very Bold Pilots
The Demonstration Team’s mission is to recruit, retain and inspire the next generation of aviators, and it also performs regularly with pilots from the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation to showcase the history of American aviation. That includes flying the modern-era fighter jets flying in formation with World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War-era aircraft.
The 14-member team is currently led by Major Joshua “Cabo” Gunderson, an experienced combat fighter pilot with more than 1,700 flying hours in the F-15C Eagle and F-22A Raptor. For those who are unable to see the F-22 Demonstration Team in person, the group regularly shares highlights from the air shows on social media. In addition to flying into the wild blue yonder, team members also visit local schools, hospitals, and community events.
During the flight in May, Maj. Gunderson flew alongside The Brat III, a P-51 Mustang flown by Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation pilot Stuart Milson.
Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.