Methwold man, Tim Flatman RN, Officer Commanding 207 sqn at Marham, very kindly
offered his time to present a talk about the revered American F-35 Lightning which is a single-
seat, single-engined, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft; often visiting Mundford

After coming into service in 2006 it has evolved into three different variants, A, B
and C; less difficult to understand than some of the tech-speak in Tim’s repertoire. This data
however, was limited to an unclassified selection.

He explained that the variants could be tailored to suit different requirements: speed, take-
off and landing times, vertical take-off, ceiling, aircraft carrier stowage and maneuverability;
the best of all these necessities is not available in one aircraft.

To demonstrate the popularity of the machine he also gave details of the distribution of end
users: 1300 in America, 138 in Britain, some in Canada, Australia and quite a few in a number
of European countries; he didn’t say whether Lockheed Martin had a contract with Russia;
perhaps that information comes under classified.

Tim described the qualifications necessary to produce a modern generation pilot: he or she
no longer needed muscle, a seat-of-the pants approach or inertia conscious intuition, but, it is
preferable to possess iPhone finger-tip coordination.
A pilot can no longer do or go where he/she pleases; the movements are monitored and
recorded by base control and, the aeroplane will not allow the pilot to make commands
beyond the aircrafts capability.

The modern fighter pilot uses avionic technology which
allows visual data to be retrieved through monitors in the helmet; information from the
ground below can come through the floor.
Combined British and American training exercises take place over the North Sea but much of
the expertise is achieved using simulators; about 50% .
It seems this well-composed and imposing matter-of-fact young man (say, 43) was
responsible for the record turn-out (37 present, six of whom were ladies; very encouraging)
or maybe it was the result of additional website data; maybe a bit of both.

There was a barrage of questions at the end of the evening and one in particular asked by a
lady who was alarmed by the F35’s fuel consumption: “Was the aircraft ‘green’”? At this
point Tim lost a little of his composure and could have said, “No, it’s silver” or, as a politician
might say, “It’s thirsty but for the greater good”. Instead he savoured the moment of being
part of a comedy double act.

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Nigel Tooth