Alaska F-22 pilot delivers jet to Reno Air Races, makes race debut in T-6
By Maj. Ashley Conner, 477th Fighter Group Public Affairs
/ Published September 18, 2014
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Lt. Col. Kevin Sutterfield, an Air Force Reserve F-22 pilot, made his race debut during the 51st Annual National Championship Air Races in a1942 AT-6 Texan during the competition in Reno, Nevada, Sept. 10-14.
"It's a real privilege to fly these amazing aircraft and to be part of this legendary aviation event," said Sutterfield. "For a kid that grew up looking through the airport fence, this is a dream come true."
During the final and arguably most exciting race of the day Sutterfield in #42 and Tom Baber in #2 battled for position the entire race. Sutterfield pulled ahead just as they crossed the finish line for a photo finish.
"It takes a great deal of trust in the other man's ability to fly that close to his airplane, that low, and that fast, but my fellow T-6 race pilots are incredible guys -- experienced and talented," he said. "I enjoy learning from them in the pits and battling with them on the race course."
In addition to racing a T-6 Sutterfield flew an Alaska F-22 to the show to be used by the F-22 Demonstration Team during the Air Show.
"I was beyond excited to hand that operational F-22 over to the Demonstration Team knowing that they'd inspire an entirely new generation of Airmen into serving. The maneuvers in the show are jaw-dropping," said Sutterfield. "Also, I think the Heritage Flight was particularly poignant at Reno because the P-51 Mustang isn't just flying the show- it's being pushed incredibly hard around the race course. You can't see that anywhere but the National Championship Air Races."
Sutterfield learned to fly before he had a driver's license- soloing on his 16th birthday near his home in Tampa, Fla. After graduating from the Air Force Academy in 1997, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lt and attended pilot training. He flew the F-15C, for 10 years throughout the Middle East and Asia before being attending the prestigious Fighter Weapons School in 2004. He transitioned to the F-22 and joined the 477th Fighter Group, Alaska's only Air Force Reserve unit, in 2007.
On October 3 Sutterfield will take command of the 302nd Fighter Squadron, one of the USAF's 10 front-line combat F-22 squadrons. The most experienced of all the F-22 squadrons, the 302nd Fighter Squadron has a proud heritage as one of the original Tuskegee Airmen squadrons from World War II.
As the commander, Sutterfield will be responsible for preparing and leading Airmen into combat operations world-wide in partnership with the 90th and 525th Fighter Squadrons, also stationed at JB Elmendorf-Richardson.