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A Raptor in Hill Country

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jacob Dastas
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

An F-22 Raptor previously assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing was loaded onto a C-5 Galaxy and taken from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, to the Hill Aerospace Museum located at Hill AFB, Utah, after being retired earlier this year.

The F-22 was inspected and de-militarized by Tyndall personnel prior to being sent off with Airmen assigned to the 512th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron out of Dover AFB, Delaware, to become part of the Hill museum’s growing fighter aircraft static collection.

“We were all excited when we were approached with the opportunity a few months ago to send this F-22 to the museum at Hill,” said Staff Sgt. Taylor Croft, 325th Logistics Readiness Squadron air terminal function supervisor. “The 325th LRS played a key role from assisting in making sure everything was good to go; from paperwork to the pallets being built by multiple shops, to inspecting, planning, and loading.”

While members from the installation were sad to see one of Tyndall’s fighter aircraft go, others from the around the Air Force are happy to see old friends.

“This exact F-22 was the first jet I got to work on when I was in tech school,” said Staff Sgt. Alexander Poorman, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group DEPOT aircraft craftsman. “It’s kind of nostalgic to get to see it again, and I’m very happy to see that it’s going to get the TLC it needs when it gets to Hill.”

As Tyndall AFB continues to make strides toward becoming the Installation of the Future, the F-22 Raptor will slowly phase out as the Checkertails prepare to transition from a training focus to a combat-ready mission with the addition of F-35A Lighting II squadrons in the coming years. Though this particular Raptor may not be deploying to areas of operations or flying sorties, its years of being admired by fans of fighter jets are far from over.

The new owners of this F-22, the Hill Aerospace Museum, are building an 80,000 square foot gallery that will hold the aircraft and display it for all the visitors of the museum.

“(Getting the F-22) was on our wish list, so when it became available, we put in a package for it,” said Aaron Clark, Hill Aerospace Museum director. “Our goal is to communicate to the public the importance the F-22 plays to the Air Force’s mission and be able to showcase it to our over 300,000 annual visitors from across the globe.”

Since its first flight in 1997, the F-22 Raptor has been a core piece of the Department of Defense’s arsenal in achieving air superiority, maintaining peace and deterring adversaries.

As Tyndall says goodbye to one of its beloved Raptors, it comforts many to know that even though its days of training pilots and maintainers are over, it still stands as a symbol of the unrivaled combat air power that the Checkertails are known for.