Hill Aerospace Museum gets pre-holiday present – an F-22 for new expansion
HILL AIR FORCE BASE — During the season of giving, Hill Aerospace Museum received a recently retired F-22 Raptor dubbed “Old Reliable.”
Upon hearing the news of Old Reliable’s retirement from ground instructional training earlier this year, Hill Aerospace Museum Director Aaron Clark requested to have it added to their collection.
With the F-22 depot and program office located on base, Clark said the new addition will allow museum staff to educate the public on a critical Air Force mission supported by Hill personnel.
“It will help us tell the local and broader story of these fighter aircrafts with the real thing,” said Clark. An F-22, he added, has been on the museum’s wish list for a long time.
The F-22 is considered the best air dominance fighter in the world, according to Lockheed Martin, a global security and aerospace company that manufactured the jets.
The modern, fifth-generation F-22 combines stealth, speed, agility and situational awareness along with lethal long-range air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry.
After six years of development, the F-22 Raptor first took flight on Sept. 7, 1997, in Marietta, Georgia. Old Reliable made its first flight just under a year later on June 29, 1998.
While a complete history of this specific fighter jet is not immediately available, Old Reliable was reportedly used for flight testing until 2006 when assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
The process to deliver the plane over 2,000 miles to Hill required deliberate, thoughtful planning with multiple entities involved, including the C-5M Super Galaxy strategic transport aircraft and its crew assigned to the 512th Airlift Wing from Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.
In a Tyndall Air Force Base news article, Staff Sgt. Alexander Poorman, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Group DEPOT aircraft craftsman at Hill, said he was struck by nostalgia upon seeing the F-22 he worked on in tech school.
“I’m very happy to see it’s going to get the TLC it needs when it gets to Hill,” Poorman said.
Restoration of the aircraft is expected in the coming months. It will be displayed in the museum’s new 80,000-square-foot gallery expansion, to be completed in fall 2023.