One of the military’s fifth-generation planes is getting rave reviews from pilots, and it’s so good that some pilots even can quote the manual. The F-22 Raptor is a favorite of Retired Air Force Col. Terry “Stretch” Scott.
In 2019, he said on the Fighter Pilot Podcast, “The flight controls… are phenomenal.” But, according to Scott, the manual said, “you may fly this aircraft with reckless abandon.”
The plane has been around for over twenty years with a few updates to the manual here and there, but the plane itself is still incredible. So incredible that it is even featured in a popular movie: “Top Gun: Maverick.”
While Tom Cruise may be known for performing many of his own stunts, some are actually done by the pilot and commander of F-22’s Demo Team, Maj. Joshua ‘Cabo’ Gunderson.
One of the more incredible stunts is the Power Loop. Gunderson employs the thrust vectoring capability to do a loop with the F-22. The plane is special since few others can do the same thing.
“It gave me a form of vertigo. There are only a handful of things I remember from 3,800 hours and 25 years [of flying] but that’s one of them.”Vincent “Jell-O” Aiello, the host of the Fighter Pilot Podcast
In a U.S. Air Force commercial, the experienced pilot showcases another trick, the Raptor Slide. Staff Sgt. Don Hudson explained how the move is made, saying, “the pilot maintains a controlled backwards slide before repositioning to pull out of the maneuver.”
Another stunt in the commercial is the J-Turn. Hudson said it “highlights the unique maneuvering capabilities of the Raptor to rapidly reverse the change of direction with an incredibly tight turn.”
While Gunderson makes the moves seem simple, pulling them off takes years of training and practice. Scott flew over 3,500 hours in an F-15 Eagle, then began flying in the F-22. He said it took time to become familiar with the new plane.
Former F-15C Eagle driver who also flew with the Air Force Thunderbirds said, “It really sucks to fight in a normal fighter against it. Feels like cheating. The Raptor is a beast of an airplane.”