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Alaska F-22 pilot delivers jet to Reno Air Races, makes race debut in T-6

Lt. Col. Kevin Sutterfield lands his T-6 after an exciting final race at the 51st Annual National Championship Air Races Sept. 14. (Courtesy Photo)

Lt. Col. Kevin Sutterfield lands his T-6 after an exciting final race at the 51st Annual National Championship Air Races Sept. 14. (Courtesy Photo)

Lt. Col. Kevin Sutterfield is met by his parents Stan and Pat after landing his F-22 at Reno Sept. 9. Both Sutterfield and his father, Stan, competed in the 51st Annual National Air Races Sept. 10-14.  (U.S. Air Force/Maj. Ashley Conner)

Lt. Col. Kevin Sutterfield is met by his parents Stan and Pat after landing his F-22 at Reno Sept. 9. Both Sutterfield and his father, Stan, competed in the 51st Annual National Air Races Sept. 10-14. (U.S. Air Force/Maj. Ashley Conner)

Lt. Col. Kevin Sutterfield prepares to take off in a T-6 before his final race of the 51st Annual National Air Races Sept. 14. (Courtesy Photo)

Lt. Col. Kevin Sutterfield prepares to take off in a T-6 before his final race of the 51st Annual National Air Races Sept. 14. (Courtesy Photo)

Lt. Col. Kevin Sutterfield is interviewed by Reno NBC affiliate reporter Ashley Cullins after flying an Alaska F-22 to Reno for the Reno Airshow Sept. 9. (U.S. Air Force/Maj. Ashley Conner)

Lt. Col. Kevin Sutterfield is interviewed by Reno NBC affiliate reporter Ashley Cullins after flying an Alaska F-22 to Reno for the Reno Airshow Sept. 9. (U.S. Air Force/Maj. Ashley Conner)

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.