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Heritage Flight: making a connection

A U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II, F-16 Fightning Falcon, F-22 Raptor, A-10C Thunderbolt II and P-51 Mustang fly in formation during the 2018 Heritage Flight Training and Cerification Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., March 4, 2018. During the course, aircrews practice ground and flight training to enable civilian pilots of historic military aircraft and U.S. Air Force pilots of current fighter aircraft to fly safely in formations together. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael X. Beyer)

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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tyler Vanwatermulen, F-22 Raptor Demo Team member, speaks to James Meeker during the 2018 Heritage Flight Training and Cerification Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., March 4, 2018. During the course, aircrews practice ground and flight training to enable civilian pilots of historic military aircraft and U.S. Air Force pilots of current fighter aircraft to fly safely in formations together. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mya M. Crosby)

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A U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II, F-16 Fightning Falcon and two P-51 Mustangs fly in formation during the 2018 Heritage Flight Training and Cerification Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., March 3, 2018. During the course, aircrews practice ground and flight training to enable civilian pilots of historic military aircraft and U.S. Air Force pilots of current fighter aircraft to fly safely in formations together. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mya M. Crosby)

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A P-51 Mustang prepares to takeoff during the 2018 Heritage Flight Training and Cerification Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., March 3, 2018. During the course, aircrews practice ground and flight training to enable civilian pilots of historic military aircraft and U.S. Air Force pilots of current fighter aircraft to fly safely in formations together. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mya M. Crosby)

A U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II performs aerial maneuvers during the annual Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., March 3, 2018. Established in 1997, the HFTCC certifies civilian pilots of historic military aircraft and U.S. Air Force pilots to fly in formation during the upcoming air shows. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Frankie D. Moore)

The HFTCC provides civilian and military pilots the opportunity to practice flying formations together in preparation for future air shows.

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper Demonstration Team member shows a child the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon during the annual Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., March 2, 2018. The course features aerial demonstrations from historical and modern fighter aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Frankie D. Moore)

The HFTCC provides civilian and military pilots the opportunity to practice flying in formation together in preparation for future air shows.

A U.S. Air Force A-10C Thunderbolt II taxies on the flight line while another A-10 takes off in preparation for the 2018 Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Feb. 27, 2018. The HFTCC provides civilian and military pilots the opportunity to practice flying in formation together in preparation for future air shows. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Michael X. Beyer)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight Training and Certification Course demonstrates the evolution of the USAF's airpower by flying today’s fighter aircraft in formation with World War II, Korean and Vietnam War - era aircraft.

The modern aircraft that performed in this year's course were the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-35 Lightning II, F-22 Raptor and the A-10C Thunderbolt II. They joined in various formations with the P-51 Mustang, P-38 Lightning, P-40 Warhawk and F-86 Sabre.

“It’s important they learn to fly alongside each other because it’s not something we normally do,” said Capt. Gregory George, Heritage Flight project officer. “These formations are a little different and need to be taught in order for them to look correct and make it safe for air shows.”

Now that the new pilots have been certified, they will go on to perform in Heritage Flight aerial demonstrations nationwide. Events like these help bridge the gap between brand new Airmen and veterans that have previously served.

“Heritage Flight is a way that we connect the Air Force’s past with the present,” said Col. Scott Campbell, 355th Fighter Wing commander. “I think it’s an awesome opportunity to have the demo team pilots and Heritage Flight pilots here to train together and share their stories. To be around airpower legends and pick their brains is an absolutely amazing opportunity.”

While Heritage Flight can form a connection within the military culture, it’s an event that has also brought the military and local community together over the years.

“It’s great for our Airmen to get out to those small towns that may have only seen things like this in the movies or on the news,” Campbell said. “Next thing you know, you’re drawing that connection and talking about relatives who have served in the same war.”

Apart from recruiting, an event like Heritage Flight can help educate the public about the mission of the USAF.

We share our stories with them so people understand who our Airmen are and what our Air Force does as a whole, Campbell said.

Heritage flight showcases decades of airpower each year and continues to unite the USAF and the local community.