Hughesville airman working with advanced aircraft
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – In modern-day warfare, it is those who first control the skies who have the best chance of winning battles on the ground. And for the son of a Hughesville man, helping our military continue its 60-year reign of worldwide air superiority is all but a day at the office.
Air Force Airman 1st Class Zachary Horne, son of David Horne, North Railroad Street, Hughesville, is working with the newest, most advanced aircraft in the Department of Defense arsenal, the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. He works in maintenance as an egress systems specialist with the 33rd Maintenance Group, 33rd Fighter Wing here.
The F-35 is full of unprecedented avionics advances and has a high level of combat survivability – its stealth technology makes it difficult to be detected by enemy fighters. The F-35 is fast, has increased maneuverability and pilots have a 360-degree view inside their helmets with digital views beyond peripheral.
Horne has been involved in the F-35 program for three months, specializing in repairing and maintaining the ejection seat. The F-35 is his first aircraft. He said he had to get special clearances and continues to learn.
“We are constantly training, since the system is so new. The F-35 is the most advanced and dominating aircraft to date in the Department of Defense, and I hope to stay with it throughout my military career,” said Horne, a 2011 graduate of Hughesville High School.
The F-35 is currently in testing and is being used for training purposes. He said he is proud to be a part of this groundbreaking, technologically advanced fighter.
Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace American military aircraft that have been used for decades – the F-16 and A-10 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighter aircraft for allied countries.
“My job is literally the pilot’s last chance for survival if he or she encounters a serious problem in flight and needs to eject,” Horne said. “I am very proud to represent my home state and my family.”
Horne joined the Air Force in 2012, and hopes to retire in the Air Force.