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    Iconic F-16 Fighting Falcon Celebrates 50 Years with Stunning Retro Paint Scheme

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    In a stunning tribute to the legacy of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper Demonstration Team has unveiled a nostalgic paint scheme replicating the red, white, and blue livery of the original YF-16 prototype.

    This commemorative makeover, which adorns the team’s aircraft, aligns with the historic 50th anniversary of the first YF-16 flight—an iconic moment in aviation history.

    The unveiling took place at Edwards Air Force Base, California, where the F-16’s journey began half a century ago.

    The effort, completed in under eight weeks by the 412th Test Wing, normally would stretch over three months.

    This rapid pace reflects the dedication and expertise of the Test Wing’s team to mark this golden anniversary in due time.

    770617 Gilze-Rijen YF-16 USAF (72)01568 54” by SJ*Aerophoto is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    “When I was hired to be the commander and pilot in the summer of last year, I had made it known that I hoped to find a way to get our airplane painted in the prototype scheme to take America back to the beginning of the story that started 50 years ago,” declared Capt. Taylor “FEMA” Hiester, commander and pilot of the F-16 Viper Demonstration Team.

    General Dynamics YF-16 #01567” by fsll2 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    The F-16, with over 400,000 combat sorties and 19 million flight hours, remains a significant aircraft since its 1979 service entry.

    The F-16 remains a key player on the world stage, with 4,600 units built since production commenced in 1976.

    While the demonstration aircraft pays close respect to the original YF-16 prototype, subtle changes honor the current team.

    The term “General Dynamics,” which appeared on the original, has been replaced with “20th Fighter Wing,” and “Viper Demo” now adorns the tip of the vertical stabilizer.

    YF-16 VASC” by Rtphokie is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

    “The importance of this YF-16 paint scheme is celebrating 50 years of the F-16 Viper,” Tony Accurso, 416th Flight Test Squadron logistics manager and director for the Edwards AFB F-16 50th Anniversary event, shared with profound pride.

    The commemoration is not just about aesthetics; it also revisits the remarkable history of the F-16’s accidental maiden flight.

    On January 20, 1974, a high-speed taxi test resulted in an unplanned takeoff by test pilot Phil Oestricher, who chose to fly the prototype rather than risk a crash.

    This incident led to the jet’s official 90-minute maiden flight on February 2, 1974. The F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, which showcases the aircraft’s capabilities across the globe, draws its heritage from this eventful beginning.

    General Dynamics YF-16 #01567” by fsll2 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    The special paint scheme will be showcased at 25 events in four countries throughout 2024, representing the Air Combat Command and the Air Force.

    Relevant articles:
    U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper Demonstration Teams Shows its New Colors, The National Interest
    F-16 Demo Team Rolls Out 50th Anniversary Paint Scheme, Air & Space Forces Magazine
    The F-16 Viper Demonstration Team releases new 50th anniversary paint scheme, DVIDS
    Air Force F-16 Viper Demonstration Team unveils new paint scheme for aircraft’s 50th anniversary, Stars and Stripes

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