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‘Toro’ grabs Viper Demo by horns

U.S. Air Force Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, F-16 Viper pilot, stands for a photo at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., April 24, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, F-16 Viper pilot, stands for a photo at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., April 24, 2019. Schmitz became the F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander and pilot on May 16 after returning from a deployment with the 55th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander and pilot, walks to his F-16CM Viper on the flight line at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 15, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander and pilot, walks to his F-16CM Viper on the flight line at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 15, 2019. Schmitz was assigned to the 55th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., before becoming a demonstration pilot. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander and pilot, prepares for a practice flight at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 15, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander and pilot, prepares for a practice flight at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 15, 2019. Schmitz is a combat-proven pilot with more than 2,500 flight hours and approximately 11 years of active-duty service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Davis, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team (VDT) aircraft engines craftsman, performs a preflight inspection of an F-16CM Viper prior to the pilot’s practice flight at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 15, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Davis, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team (VDT) aircraft engines craftsman, performs a preflight inspection of an F-16CM Viper prior to the pilot’s practice flight at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 15, 2019. Davis and his team provided maintenance support as the pilot prepared for an Air Combat Command certification. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander and pilot, performs an aerial maneuver at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 16, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander and pilot, performs an aerial maneuver at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 16, 2019. Schmitz completed more than 20 training flights and 45 hours of study before earning the role of team pilot. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Annemarie Prozzillo, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team aircrew flight equipment specialist, watches Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander and pilot, perform at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 15, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Annemarie Prozzillo, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team aircrew flight equipment specialist, watches Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander and pilot, perform at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 15, 2019. Schmitz received his final certification on May 16, officially earning the title of Air Force demonstration pilot. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command leaders watch as Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander and pilot, performs a demonstration at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 16, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command leaders watch as Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander and pilot, performs a demonstration at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 16, 2019. Schmitz had to complete months of training and receive certification from four levels of Air Force leadership before he could become a demonstration team commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Austin Dixon, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team (VDT) dedicated crew chief, signals Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, F-16 VDT commander and pilot, to stop his aircraft on the flight line at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 16, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Austin Dixon, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team (VDT) dedicated crew chief, signals Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz, F-16 VDT commander and pilot, to stop his aircraft on the flight line at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 16, 2019. Schmitz flew a demonstration for Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, to earn the title of team commander and pilot. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

(From left) U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, Maj. Garret Schmitz, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander and pilot, Col. Derek O’Malley, 20th Fighter Wing commander, and Col. Brian Jackson, 20th Operations Group commander, stand for a photo at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 16, 2019.

(From left) U.S. Air Force Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, Maj. Garret Schmitz, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander and pilot, Col. Derek O’Malley, 20th Fighter Wing commander, and Col. Brian Jackson, 20th Operations Group commander, stand for a photo at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 16, 2019. Holmes certified Schmitz as a demonstration pilot after evaluating his aerial performance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Garret Schmitz, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander and pilot, right, and Jim Beasley, Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation P-51 pilot, fly in formation during training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 16, 2019.
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U.S. Air Force Maj. Garret Schmitz, F-16 Viper Demonstration Team commander and pilot, right, and Jim Beasley, Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation P-51 pilot, fly in formation during training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., May 16, 2019. Schmitz is scheduled to participate in Heritage Flights around the world throughout the 2019 and 2020 performance seasons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --

Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, certified Maj. Garret “Toro” Schmitz as a demonstration team pilot following an aerial performance, May 16.

Schmitz is tasked with commanding the F-16 Viper Demonstration Team through their 2019 and 2020 seasons as they perform at approximately 40 shows across the world.

Previously assigned to the 55th Fighter Squadron, Schmitz is a combat-proven pilot with more than 2,500 flight hours in his approximate 11 years of military service. He also completed 55 combat missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

The new commander’s training included more than 20 practice missions and 45 hours of study which prepared him for four certifications at the 20th Operations Group, 20th Fighter Wing, 9th Air Force and Air Combat Command levels.

Schmitz will lead the team in giving individuals a firsthand look at one of the world’s premiere multi-role fighter aircraft while also inspiring the next generation of pilots, maintainers and Airmen.

For more information on the F-16 VDT, or for the team’s 2019 schedule, visit www.shaw.af.mil/Viper-Demo-Team