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B-1 makes first-ever appearance at Sun ‘n Fun air show

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Holly Cook
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Members of the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron flew to Lakeland, Fla., to participate in the Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo, one of the world’s largest annual aviation events, April 5-10, 2022.

This was the first time in the expo’s 80 years that the B-1B Lancer was featured as a static display for the more than 200,000 attendees to see.

The 337th TES is part of the 753rd Test and Evaluation Group, which falls under the 53rd Wing headquartered at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The squadron is responsible for operationally testing new combat capabilities, tactics development, simulator certifications and advanced program network support for Air Combat Command, Air Force Global Strike Command and geographic combatant commanders.

“As a test squadron, we don’t often get the opportunity to showcase our aircraft at a high visibility event like this,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Tull, 337th TES commander. “To have our test bomber displayed at an airshow where community members have the chance to see and learn about our mission up close is incredible.”

The eight-man crew had the opportunity to speak with the air show crowd about the capabilities of the B-1B, share the mission of the 337th TES and highlight the critical role of the B-1B to the Air Force mission.

“They love learning about the aircraft like how fast it goes, how high it flies, the kind of weapons it can deploy and what kind of sensors the aircraft employs to complete the mission,” said Tull. “We reached such a large group of aviation enthusiasts and we love talking to the younger folks who might be considering a career in the Air Force or a career in military aviation.”

Each of the five B-1B crew chiefs had the opportunity to mentor Civil Air Patrol members and spoke with retired military members and air show attendees about how they ensure the safety of the aircrew while flying the B-1B in support of the Air Force war fighter mission.

“This is my first air show where we are on the ground getting to interact with people,” said Tech. Sgt. Oscar Masga, 337th TES B-1B Lancer crew chief. “Crew chiefs are important to the flying mission because we have to make sure the jets are safe and always ready for the aircrew. We are the last ones to touch the aircraft before it takes off and the first ones to receive it whenever it lands. Just talking to the people here, answering their questions and giving that knowledge that I have learned in the 13 years I have been in the Air Force to all of the folks who have never seen a B-1 is a great feeling.”

As their first time attending the Sun ‘n Fun event, the 337th TES crew was excited to show off the B-1B and spread knowledge of its strike capabilities to a diverse audience.

“I was blown away by the sheer number of general aviation aircraft and aviation enthusiasts here,” said Tull. “Being around people who want to talk aviation all day is fantastic. We really enjoy educating the public and showing off this amazing machine.”