Here’s what 70 years of US air superiority looks like

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US Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

On March 5, Airmen from all over the US converged on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona for the 20th annual Heritage Flight, showcasing 70 years of US air superiority.

The P-38 Lightnings, P-40 Warhawks, P-47 Thunderbolts, and P-51 Mustangs, that ruled the skies during World War II flew alongside the F-16s, F-22s, and the F-35 in this moving tribute to the US’s military aviation.

“The best thing about being a part of Heritage Flight is the impact that is has on people when they see us at an airshow,” said Dan Friedkin, the founder of the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation and demonstration pilot, Airman Magazine reports.

“The music, the sound of the airplanes, and the visuals, inspire great feelings. It makes people proud to be an American, proud of the US Air Force and happy to see others inspired.”

See the highlights of the flights below:


The aircraft, old and new, have to be meticulously maintained by the airmen.

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Senior Airman Anthony Naugle, right, an A-10 crew chief with the 357th Fighter Squadron, 355th Fighter Group based at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., gets a lesson in the maintenance of one of the two 1,000 hp (746 kW), turbo-supercharged, 12-cylinder Allison V-1710 engines on a P-38 “Lightning” from Doug Abshier after the day’s practice flights at the Heritage Flight Training Course, Mar 5, 2016.
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US Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

Fred Roberts, a 93-year-old, a World War II P-51 Mustang pilot who took it to the Luftwaffe, was a hit at the event. “I love joking with young pilots and talking about our ventures,” Roberts said. “It truly puts a visual to the lineage of the aircraft.”

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Fred Roberts, 93, second from right, a former P-51D pilot during WWII with the 354th Fighter Squadron, 355th Fighter Group in England, talks with Lt. Gen. Mark C. “Chris” Nowland, Commander, 12th Air Force, Air Combat Command, and Commander, Air Forces Southern, US Southern Command, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. during the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 6, 2016. Roberts was tasked with destroying 57 P-51s after the cease of hostilities in Europe; including one of the planes he flew in combat.
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US Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

Here’s a view from inside the Mustang’s cockpit with the pilot who flew in the Heritage Flight.

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Vlado Lenoch, a pilot with Air Combat Command’s Heritage Flight program, taxis the runway at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on March 5, 2016.
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US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro

A look at the F-86’s cockpit. The Sabre was a staple of the Korean War.

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A Heritage Flight pilot taxis an F-86 “Sabre” to join with a P-51D, F-16 and an F-22 for formation practice during the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 4, 2016.
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US Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

An airman and his son take in the sights.

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Brad Balazs, an F-16 pilot with the 162nd Air National Guard points out WWII-era fighters to his son Whitt Balazs, 2, on the flight line of the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 3, 2016.
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US Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

The P-40 was first produced in 1939, but thanks to the maintainers at the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation, this cockpit looks like it just rolled off the line.

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The cockpit of a vintage P-40 fighter on the flight line of the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 6, 2016.
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US Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

Here the P-51, the F-86, and the P-38 are looking great for old timers.

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A P-51D “Mustang”, left, an F-86 “Sabre” and a P-38 “Lightning” taxi back to the flight line after a formation practice flight during the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 3, 2016.
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US Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

An F-16 gets ready to join the formation.

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An F-16 Fighting Falcon is marshaled into position at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on March 4, 2016.
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US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro

Here an F-22 Raptor leads the pack of heritage fighters, but there is an even newer aircraft at the show.

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Four generations and over 70 years of US Army Air Corps / US Air Force air superiority, and the technological leaps that maintained it, are represented by a single formation of an F-22 “Raptor”, F-86 “Sabre”, F-16 “Fighting Falcon” and a P-51D “Mustang” during the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 5, 2016.
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US Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

The F-35 Lightning II.

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An F-35 Lightning II flies around the airspace of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on March 5, 2016.
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US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro

Here’s the business end of the F-35’s namesake, the P-38 Lightning.

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Replicas of four Browning M2 machine guns and one Hispano 20mm canon are mounted in nose of a P-38 “Lightning” participating in the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 3, 2016.
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US Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

Here they are flying together …

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The Lockheed F-35 “Lightning II” flies in formation for the first time with its namesake, the WWII-era Lockheed P-38 “Lightning” during formation practice flights at the Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, Ariz., Mar 4, 2016.
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US Air Force photo by J.M. Eddins Jr.

… and side by side.

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An F-38 Lightning and an F-35 Lightning II fly side-by-side for the first time at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base on March 4, 2016.
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US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Brandon Shapiro