DA #8: F-35 Test Pilot Billie Flynn Destroys Myths about the Joint Strike Fighter Program


In this episode, I interviewed Billie Flynn an F-35 test pilot for the Lockheed Martin Corporation. Billie joined Lockheed Martin as a test pilot for the F-16 E/F Super Viper. He became the thirty-ninth pilot to fly the F-35 when he took off in an F-35B. He continues today conducting flight test on all F-35 variants. Billie is presently based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

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Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, Billie served in the Canadian Armed Forces for 23 years and flew the CF-18 Hornet operationally in both Canada and Germany. From 1990-94, he flew as the Canadian Air Force exchange test pilot at the F-16 Combined Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

In 1997, he was assigned as Commanding Officer of 441 Tactical Fighter Squadron in Cold Lake, Alberta. During this period, he commanded the Canadian Task Force in Aviano, Italy during Operation Allied Force. He flew 25 combat missions over Kosovo and the former Republic of Yugoslavia, where his unit received Battle Honours from Queen Elizabeth II, the first such distinction for a Canadian fighting unit since World War II.

Following his tour as Commander, he retired from the Canadian Forces and held various project pilot and test pilot positions for the European Aerospace and Defence Company, based in Munich, Germany, which included testing of the Eurofighter Typhoon, F-4 E/F, and Tornado fighters.

In 2008, Billie was inducted as a Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP), and served as SETP President from 2010-2011. He has more than 5000 flight hours in more than 80 different aircraft.

Questions Discussed in This Episode

  • Why does the United States need the F-35 when they could have concentrated on building more F-22s?
  • Why is the Joint Strike Fighter program so widely criticized?
  • Why are there so many controversies with the F-35 program than there were with the F-22?
  • Where does the F-35 stand technologically against Chinese J-20 or Russian Su-PAKFA?

Thank you for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining us on this episode. Have some feedback or questions, you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!

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About Larkins Dsouza

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  • joezhifu

    sales for vendor

  • Anil chopra

    It is unfair to compare F 22 and F 35 as they are totally different class. F 35 is meant to replace F 16 class. F 35 delays, software bugs and cost overruns have been of concern. Long-term should be a great aircraft. PAK-FA and J-20 are likely to give it run for its money, even though they may not match the Stealth and some avioncs

    • AVJOAT

      The F35 doesn’t compare to the F16 class when it comes to the modular design of the F16. Coming days will tell, when the US gov wants to upgrade the 100 F35’s concurrent with the next blk3 improved versions and it won’t be easy. Lockheed would have wished they followed General Dynamics fuselage modular design or at least tried to.

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