The drumbeat of despair over the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II has been incessant, and perhaps for good reason. Cost overruns are rampant, and concerns about whether or not the 5th generation stealth fighter will ever live up to its billing are widely expressed by military experts and armchair aviation pundits alike. However, few of those who are trumpeting disaster actually fly the F-35. If you’re interested in another, experienced (and yes, perhaps optimistic and biased) opinion on the progress of the Lightning II, give this a read. It was written by Maj. Morten “Dolby” Hanche, test pilot, and the first Norwegian to fly the F-35. He explains how flight testing and aircraft development is a process and a balancing act between what you want an aircraft to do and what it can realistically do now. The fact that it can’t do everything now is not necessarily the end of the world. Maj. Hanche now serves as an instructor pilot with the 62nd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.

Lack of perfection does not mean disaster – how I read test reports as a pilot