OC 617 Squadron RAF flies F-35B

Wing Commander J.R. Butcher, OC617 (Dambusters) Squadron, taxiing an F-35B Lighting aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, after completing his first flight in the aircraft. – photo: US Marine Corps ©
Wing Commander J.R. Butcher, OC 617 Squadron being congratulated by a fellow RAF pilot after conducting his first flight in an F-35B Lighting at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort. – photo: US Marine Corps ©

The new Officer Commanding Number 617 Squadron, Wing Commander John Butcher, Royal Air Force, has taken his first flight in an F-35B Lightning, the UK’s new multi-role stealth combat aircraft. 617 Sqn (The Dambusters) is designated as the first front line UK F-35B Lightning squadron and will return to RAF Marham in Norfolk next summer. The flight was made at the US Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina.

Wg Cdr Butcher said: ‘This was a memorable day and climbing into the cockpit for the first time felt really familiar as the simulator in which I have been training is so realistic.’ This first flight followed weeks of ground school training and during his flight Wg Cdr Butcher flew over the Atlantic Ocean where he was able to explore how manoeuvrable the aircraft is before conducting some approaches at Beaufort.