People who drive near Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and the Joint Reserve Base in west Fort Worth are used to seeing F-16s or F-35s take off into the sky.
Now they may see one suspended in midair.
That’s because Lockheed has received government approval to begin hover maneuvers as part of test flights for F-35B aircraft being built for the Marines with vertical landing capability.
Lockheed completed such a hover on Wednesday afternoon, with the F-35 coming to a complete stop on approach and hovering at about 150 feet for up to a minute before accelerating forward to a landing.
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The STOVL — short takeoff vertical landing — version of the F-35 was designed for the Marines so the plane can be based on amphibious assault ships or at auxiliary locations. The company has delivered 35 of the planes to the U.S. military, with plans for 340.
Lockheed test pilot Bill Gigliotti, who was at the controls for Wednesday’s flight, said the aircraft is switched to STOVL operation with the push of a button, and can then be maneuvered back or from side to side before landing. He said he did a short takeoff in less than 600 feet.
“The airplane is so easy to fly,” said the former Navy fighter pilot who joined Lockheed Martin in 2003. He said he anticipates multiple STOVL operations in Fort Worth each month as production increases.
Earlier this month, a different F-35 variant being built for the Navy made its first arrested landing on an aircraft carrier off the coast near San Diego.
The F-35C test aircraft landed on the USS Nimitz flight deck on Nov. 3 as part of initial at-sea developmental testing of that Fort Worth-made aircraft.
Hilton Fort Worth designated a historic hotel
The Hilton Fort Worth hotel at Eighth and Main streets downtown, where President John F. Kennedy addressed a crowd of people in the rain on Nov. 22, 1963, has become a Historic Hotel of America.
The hotel, built in 1921, was among 24 historic hotels recently accepted into the program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It recognizes the finest historic hotels. To be nominated, the property must be at least 50 years old, among other criteria.
“From Puerto Rico to Hawaii, each hotel represents a unique aspect of the heritage, history, and culture of the United States of America including one from more than 150 years prior to 1776,” Lawrence Horwitz, executive director of Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide, said of the latest nominees.
Kennedy addressed the crowd outside before speaking at a Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce breakfast. He then traveled to Dallas, where he was assassinated.