AE Alum Completes First F-35C Flight
PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Lt Cmdr. Eric “Magic” Buus, a Navy test pilot, had the honor of flying the carrier variant of the F-35 (CF-1) for the craft’s initial flight February 11.
Buus, BS 94, flew the F-35C for a little over two hours. His first flight in CF-1 checked the function of the flutter excitation system, designed to help measure structural loads of the airframe during various flight maneuvers.
“The aircraft flew great for more than two hours with no issues. It’s a really smooth, solid flying airplane and a joy to fly,” Buus said. “This flight was a great milestone for me, personally, and more importantly, for the Services during the 100 year anniversary of Naval Aviation. This airplane is going to give us a great leap in capability, and I’m looking forward to putting it through the demanding carrier suitability tests required to ensure it’s ready for the Fleet.”
The F-35C is distinct from the F-35A and F-35B variants with its larger wing surfaces and reinforced landing gear for greater control in the demanding carrier take-off and landing environment. Videotapes of the flight can be accessed from the U.S. Navy website, and on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxrvDzKBWEY.
Buus learned to fly at Albertus Airport in his hometown of Freeport, Illinois. He was accepted into Navy flight training in 1995 and graduated from test pilot school in 2003. Buus has tested as many as 30 types of aircraft, including fighter planes, helicopters and gliders.
“Magic’s flight is a tremendous accomplishment for him and the test team, and a historic event for Naval aviation,” Capt. Thomas Huff, commodore of Naval Test Wing Atlantic, said of the February 11 test. “The determination and thoroughness of test professionals across all our programs is shaped by the education and training they receive at the United States Naval Test Pilot School and Test and Evaluation University, ensuring delivery of warfighting capability to Sailors and Marines.”
Coincidentally timed with the kickoff of the Centennial of Naval Aviation in San Diego, this milestone represents the Navy’s first hands-on experience in its future fighter aircraft with stealth capabilities.
The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program is in the system development and demonstration phase, focusing on delivering three different, new aircraft variants to the U.S. Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. The integrated test force at NAS Patuxent River is focused on testing and evaluation of the F-35B and F-35C.