A U.S. Marine Corps aviator became the first military pilot to accumulate more than 1,000 flight hours in the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft, the service announced.
Lt. Col. Brian W. Bann, a Marine Corps F-35B pilot, achieved the milestone when he delivered a new production F-35B to Marine Aircraft Group 13 at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, Ariz. on December 11.
Lt. Col. Bann was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 2000 and has since accumulated over 3,000 hours in fighter aircraft. He previously flew the AV-8B Harrier II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 (VMFA-211) at MCAS Yuma, Ariz. and the F-16 Fighting Falcon with the U.S. Air Force (USAF) 55th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base (AFB), S.C. while serving on an inter-service pilot exchange tour with the Air Force.
On April 8, 2013, Bann became one of the first Marine Corps pilots, and the 81st pilot ever, to fly the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) at Eglin AFB, Fla. He then served as an F-35B Instructor Pilot and helped stand up Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501) at MCAS Beaufort, S.C.
Bann is currently assigned to the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) at the Lockheed Martin F-35 production facility in Fort Worth, Texas. As the F-35 Acceptance Pilot and Government Flight Representative, Bann conducts acceptance check flights on all three variants of the F-35 (F-35A/B/C) production aircraft, often delivering them to operational F-35 units.
The Marine Corps currently has approximately 100 F-35Bs and F-35Cs in its inventory, based at MCAS Yuma, Ariz., MCAS Beaufort, S.C., MCAS Miramar, Calif., and MCAS Iwakuni, Japan.