Vermont National Guard Logo News
Articles
News | Sept. 17, 2019

158th FW Pilots Reunite for F-35 Lessons in Florida

158th Fighter Wing

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt., (September 17, 2019) — Two months have gone by of simulators, briefings, debriefings and over 150 hours of instruction. It leads up to being on your own, no backseat, no one with you.

There is a certain amount of anxiety that comes with the unknowns of doing something for the first time. For the first flight however, Capt. Jeremy Devlin will be there, a familiar face in roles that are now reversed.

Lt. Col. Nathan Graber, a pilot assigned to the 134th Fighter Squadron of the Vermont Air National Guard, once instructed Devlin when he was a new F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. Now, as a new F-35 Lightning II pilot, it is Graber’s turn to be the student.

“I was in training from March through May,” said Graber about his time spent learning the F-35 at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. “We relied very heavily on these simulators which are very realistic and pretty much mimic the jet in every way except they don’t move and you don’t get the same sensations as the actual aircraft.”

Joining the Air Force in 1995, Graber spent his career flying the F-16, a jet where the instructor can sit in the backseat and take control if the student pilot gets into an unsafe situation.

“You can’t do that in an F-35,” said Graber.

As luck would have it, for Graber’s first flight in the F-35 the instructor scheduled with him was Devlin, whom he has known since 2011 when Devlin was an enlisted crew chief looking to become a pilot.

“I watched him go through the whole process of getting hired into the pilot training program, become an officer, go to pilot training and come back and fly the F-16,” said Graber. “At one point I had instructed him in the F-16 when he was first getting started in really any kind of tactical fighter flying.”

Devlin, who joined the Green Mountain Boys in 2001, was with Graber every step of the way, from the mission brief, to getting his jet programmed and any last questions before he took to the skies for the first time in an F-35. The captain is on an extended active duty tour with the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, as an instructor pilot, and will eventually be returning to Vermont.

“The exciting thing was that I basically had that experience with him, but the roles were reversed,” said Graber. “Now he’s the instructor pilot and definitely not new at the game anymore.”

Graber said there was a certain comfort level that came with having someone he has known and trained with be there for him as his instructor. While he felt comfortable flying with any F-35 pilot, he added there was something extra about the fact it was with Devlin.

“It makes it more special that it’s now two Vermont guys flying jets down at Eglin, especially the first time,” said Graber. “I really feel privileged to be able to fly this.”

National Guard News
U.S. Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, jokes with Lt. Col. Steven, 325th Weapons Squadron director of operations, before a Weapons School Integration exercise sortie at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, June 1, 2022. The chief of the National Guard Bureau serves as a military adviser to the president, secretary of defense and National Security Council and is the Department of Defense’s official channel of communication to the governors and state adjutants general on all matters pertaining to the National Guard.
National Guard Bureau Chief Visits 325th Weapons Squadron
By Tech. Sgt. Morgan Whitehouse, | June 15, 2022
ARLINGTON, Va. – Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, visited students, instructors and support personnel from the 325th Weapons Squadron taking part in graduation week at the U.S. Air Force Weapons...

New York Air National Guard Master Sgt. Eric Wintersteen, a crew chief assigned to the 174th  Attack Wing's Maintenance Group, explains the airframe and engine inspection he is performing on a remotely piloted MQ-9 Reaper aircraft to   Brazilian Air Force officers visiting Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, New York, June 6, 2022. The stop was part of a week-long tour of New York Air National Guard facilities by Brazilian officers and NCOs as part of the State Partnership Program.
New York Air National Guard hosts SPP partner Brazil
By Eric Durr, | June 15, 2022
ROME, N.Y. - The New York Air National Guard hosted the commander of Brazil’s Aerospace Operations Command, part of a nine-person Brazilian Air Force delegation, during a week-long engagement focused on space operations,...

Alabama National Guard Pfc. Elioenai Campos in Columbiana, Alabama, June 10, 2022. Campos is part of the U.S. national jiujitsu team set to compete for international honors at the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, July 7-17, 2022.
Alabama Soldier to represent America in 2022 World Games
By Alabama National Guard | June 15, 2022
COLUMBIANA, Ala. – When Alabama National Guard Pfc. Elioenai Campos enters the coliseum in July, it will be the culmination of 26 years of literal blood, sweat and tears.Campos, an infantryman assigned to the 1-167th Infantry...

Montana National Guard aircrews search for flood victims June 13-14 in South Central Montana. At least a dozen people were rescued.
Montana National Guard aircrews rescue flood victims
By Montana National Guard | June 15, 2022
FORT HARRISON, Mont. – Montana National Guard helicopter crews rescued dozens of flood victims this week.At the request of local officials, the Montana National Guard continues to assist with search and rescue operations due...

Pfc. John Beckman, a carpentry and masonry specialist with the 2120th Engineer Company, participates in the Cherokee Nation Civil Engineering Innovative Readiness Training June 9, 2022, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Air and Army National Guard members work in two-week rotations from April to August, building seven homes each year for low-income or homeless military veterans of Cherokee Nation.
National Guard builds homes for Cherokee vets during IRT
By Staff Sgt. Victoria Nelson, | June 15, 2022
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Under the blazing Oklahoma sun, the sounds of construction reverberate through a building site on Cherokee Nation land. Hammers, nail guns and electric saws are guided by the hands of National Guard members...