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F-22 Raptors land in Great Falls ahead of Mission Over Malmstrom

Posted: 3:45 PM, Jul 12, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-12 17:51:09-04

GREAT FALLS – The F-22 Raptors, one of the main attractions for this weekend’s Mission Over Malmstrom event, arrived at the 120th Airlift Wing Thursday afternoon.

U.S. Air Force officials and a few families were on scene to witness the aircrafts’ descent.

The two Raptors gave viewers a glimpse of their maneuvers before landing.

Demonstrator pilot and United States Air Force Major Paul Lopez listed some of the maneuvers viewers can expect to see this weekend.

“You’re gonna feel a lot of afterburner. You’re going to see the afterburner as well and you’re gonna see some phenomenal maneuvers with big loops, small loops. You’re gonna see the airplane going fast, the airplane going slow, and you’re just gonna see the airplane doing things that no other fighter jet is able to do,” he said.

While the maneuvers entertain onlookers, they also serve the team’s purpose: recruit, retain, and inspire.

While the F-22 Demonstration Team is visiting, they want to maximize their opportunities and go out into the community, meet fans and show their support to everyone.

Shortly after the team touched down, they did just that.

One of their first stops was to the pediatric floor at Benefis Hospital, to visit children and their families and spread their love for aviation.

2nd Lt. Samuel Eckholm, F-22 Raptor Demonstration public affairs officer, said, “It’s just pretty special to be able to talk to kids, kind of remind us where we were at when we were their age.”

One boy the team had the opportunity to hang out with was Logan.

Eckhold said: “So we just had the opportunity to meet a young boy named Logan, who is obsessed with airplanes and aviation, and being able to walk into his room and teach him a little bit about the F-22 Demo Team and what we do. [He] put a smile on our face just as his as well, and that was a powerful thing to experience.”

Mission Over Malmstrom is just one out of 20 airshows the team attends this season.

Leading up to the open house at Malmstrom Air Force Base, the F-22 Raptor demonstration team will do community outreach with stops at Benefis Health System’s Pediatric Department and Boy Scouts of America.

For those wishing to see the F-22 Raptors in action, you can attend the Mission Over Malmstrom open house this weekend. You can watch their performance July 13 and 14 at 2:30 p.m.

Click here to learn more about the event.

-Reported by Lindsie Hiatt/MTN News