Four iconic fighter aircraft symbolizing the history of the United States Air Force will soar over Circuit of The Americas track in a pre-race tribute prior to the start of the 2012 FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX on Sunday, November 18th at 1:00pm CST. This Heritage Flight, an aerial display of U.S. combat history will be piloted by Captain Garrett Dover in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, Dan Friedkin and Tom Gregory in two vintage P-51 Mustangs and Steve Hinton in a vintage P-38 Lightning.
The modern-day aircraft flying in the Heritage Flight will be the F-16 Fighting Falcon. A highly maneuverable, compact, multi-role fighter that is proven in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. In an air-to-surface role, the F-16 can fly more than 500 miles, deliver its weapons with superior accuracy and defend against enemy aircraft.
Flying alongside the F-16 will be three vintage warbirds, two P-51 Mustangs and a P-38 Lightning. Recognized as one of the most dominant fighter planes of its era, the Merlin-powered P-51 Mustang first entered World War II combat in December 1943. Providing high-altitude escort to B-17 and B-24 bombers, P-51s scored heavily over German interceptors and by war’s end they had destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft in the air, more than any other fighter in Europe. Mustangs also served in the Pacific where they escorted B-29s to Japan from Iwo Jima. During the Korean War, P-51Ds were used primarily for close support of ground forces until withdrawn from combat in 1953.
The P-38 was originally conceived as an advanced high-performance twin-engine interceptor, but its first major production was the P-38E, which had a 20mm cannon rather than the earlier 37mm cannon. The versatile Lightning performed many different missions during World War II, including dive bombing, level bombing, bombing through clouds, strafing, photo reconnaissance and long range escort. It truly shined in the Pacific theater; seven of the top eight scoring United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) aces in the Pacific flew the P-38. The P-38 became the standard USAAF fighter in the Pacific theater until the closing months of WWII.
The Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation (AFHFF) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that honors the heritage of USAF air power and proudly supports the USAF’s recruiting efforts by flying vintage fighter planes with today’s state of the art fighter aircraft in close formation. Heritage Flight (HF) performances involve current USAF fighter aircraft piloted by Air Combat Command pilots and certified civilian HF pilots.
For more information on the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight program, visit: http://acc.af.mil/aerialevents/heritageflight/index.asp or http://www.AirForceHeritageFlight.org.
The Formula 1 race begins at 1:00pm CST and will be televised on SPEED.
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