HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Twenty-eighteen marks 30 years of Independence Day flyovers for communities across Northern Utah, as pilots from the 419th Fighter Wing once again took to the skies July 4. The Air Force Reserve unit at Hill AFB has been flying over the Independence Day celebrations almost every year since receiving the F-16 Fighting Falcon in 1983. The wing has since transitioned to the Air Force’s newest fighter jet, the F-35 Lightning II.
This year, four F-35s flew across 14 cities from North Ogden to Murray, and as far east as Vernal. Flying the jets were Lt. Col. Bart “Face” Wilbanks, Lt. Col. Nathan “Bear” Litz, Lt. Col. Jayson “Vato” Rickard, and Capt. Mark “Quatro” Tappendorf. The four reservists have more than 10,000 combined flying hours, along with multiple combat deployments. The F-35 maintainers from the 388th and 419th FWs were at work early during the morning to prepare the jets for takeoff. More than 20 Airmen volunteered to work the holiday to continue the longstanding tradition.
Hill received the F-35A in September 2015 and will be home to 78 jets by the end of 2019. The active duty 388th FW and Air Force Reserve 419th FW fly and maintain the jets in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both components.