It’s still four months away, but promoters for the Bell Helicopter Fort Worth Alliance Air Show are already touting one of its attractions: a Fort Worth-made F-35 Lightning II fighter jet.
This is the first time the aircraft will be displayed at the Alliance show. The public will be able to get an up-close look at the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft, built by Lockheed Martin. The air show is Oct. 15-16 at Alliance Airport in far north Fort Worth.
The F-35 will be featured at Alliance in a “static ground display” — meaning it won’t fly. The plane, though, is scheduled to make its aerial debut at shows this summer in Europe including the renowned Farnsborough International Air Show in July, according to Lockheed Martin’s website.
The F-35 combines advanced stealth, integrated avionics, sensor fusion and logistics support, with the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history.
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“An Air Force F-35 at this year’s air show is a great opportunity for people to see American innovation at its best and to meet the airmen who fly and maintain the world’s only 5th generation multi-role fighter,” said Orlando Carvalho, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics executive vice president, in a statement.
Tom Harris, president of Alliance Air Productions, producer of the event and a nonprofit organization of Hillwood Development Co., said the organization is honored to have the aircraft.
“The F-35 represents a new era in military aviation,” Harris said in a statement. “To have the opportunity to share the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft, built right here in Fort Worth, during this annual showcase of our military, aviation and aerospace industry, is an unprecedented honor.”
The F-35 Lightning II is a single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth fighter, allowing pilots to penetrate areas without being detected by radars. The F-35 will be used by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, and by several other countries.
About 9,500 employees work on the F-35 at Lockheed Martin's mile-long facility in west Fort Worth. Statewide, more than 40,000 jobs are tied to the F-35 project, providing $5.3 billion in economic impact, according to the promoters.
The Air Force’s Thunderbirds will headline this year’s air show, now in its 26th year.
Growing the pizza pie
Papa Murphy’s, the takeout pizza place where you build your own uncooked pie to bake at home, is targeting Dallas-Fort Worth for aggressive expansion.
The chain, based in Vancouver, Wash., has 1,500 stores including 42 in Dallas-Fort Worth. It hopes to double its Metroplex presence in three to five years and is looking to add to its group of local franchisees, Chief Development Officer Jayson Tipp said.
“DFW is a good food market. There’s a lot of restaurant business,” Tipp said. “We do well in that kind of environment.”
Papa Murphy’s has three stores in Fort Worth, two in Arlington and one each in North Richland Hills, Keller, Grapevine, Trophy Club and Burleson. A Bedford store at Harwood Road and Meadowpark Drive is expected to open this month. Others are in the works in Rockwall, Waxahachie, Rowlett and Dallas.
Connie Metzler, a franchisee who has operated the Grapevine and North Richland Hills stores for about 10 years, said they have been steady performers for her.
“Our niche is the family, the soccer mom,” she said. “They don’t have time to go out for dinner, so you can pick up a pizza and choose when you want to eat.”
Tipp said the company charges a $25,000 upfront franchise fee and takes a 5 percent royalty on net sales. Because no ovens or freezers are required, the buildout costs on a store are less than other food industry franchises. In addition to DFW, the company is targeting Phoenix, Austin and Raleigh, N.C., for growth.
Metzler, a former president at Colonial Bank in Southlake, said she and her husband loved the pizza and were regular customers when they lived in Denver. After moving to Texas, “I missed Papa Murphy’s,” so she decided to open one. she said.
New business jets at Meacham
There’s nothing like that new plane smell.
On Tuesday, Executive AirShare showed off a new Embraer Phenom 300 that has joined its fleet at Fort Worth Meacham Airport. The fractional jet ownership company said it now has over 240 customers and operates 50 aircraft.
The Lenexa, Kan.-based company recently expanded its Fort Worth operations and moved into a new hangar and office space at Meacham.
The Phenom 300 can carry up to eight passengers and travel up to 2,000 miles. Customers can own 1/16 of the Phenom 300 for $624,500, which allows them to use the plane 20 days a year. A quarter-ownership of the aircraft costs $2.4 million and allows the owner to use the plane 80 days a year.
“It’s a great plane for us,” said J. Michael McMillan, senior vice president of Executive AirShare. “This airplane can easily get a full load of people from Fort Worth to all points in the contiguous U.S.”
The company also displayed a King Air 350i that can seat nine passengers. About half of the company’s 200 employees in North Texas work out of the Fort Worth base, McMillan said.
Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk
Max B. Baker: 817-390-7714, @MaxbakerBB
Steve Kaskovich: 817-390-7773, @stevekasko