Flying in a Flipped F-16 Viper Is the Usual Day at the Office for This Air Force Pilot

We, the people who are not flying in one, generally refer to the F-16 as the Fighting Falcon. That’s the official name of possibly the most successful military aircraft in modern history, with over 30 nations currently fielding it for their own needs.
F-16 Viper Demonstration Team pilot flying upside down 21 photos
Photo: USAF/Senior Airman Madeline Herzog
F-16 Fighting Falcon over U.S. Central Command area of responsibilityF-16 Fighting Falcon over the Nevada Test and Training RangeF-16 Fighting Falcons chasing KC-135 StratotankerF-16C Fighting FalconF-16 Fighting FalconF-16C Fighting Falcon taking off from New JerseyAggressor Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon taking offRoyal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16F-16 Fighting Falcon in Operation Inherent ResolveF-16 Fighting Falcons over Niceville, Florida
America has the largest fleet, of course, with many of its pilots climbing inside F-16 cockpits each day. Some of them, quite a lot, do not call the plane Fighting Falcon, but Viper. Why? Well, word is some pilots somehow see this plane as resembling the snake by the same name, while others dreamed themselves Colonial pilots from the Battlestar Galactica sci-fi series, whose original episodes ran at about the same time the airplane was born.

Viper is thus an unofficial name for the airplane, but there is one USAF unit that uses it on the record. That would be the F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, a small outfit tasked with “maintaining community relations for the Air Force and recruiting future service members."

Like all aerobatic crews, the F-16 Viper Demonstration Team is getting ready for a busy year ahead, which in this case will see plane and humans keeping it up and running move to 21 events across the United States, starting in March and ending in November (full calendar here).

Even if the official start of the air show season is a few weeks away, pilots are already training hard, and so does the Demonstration Team commander, Maj. Garret Schmitz. It’s him you see in the main photo of this piece, flying upside down in his F-16 Viper, over the Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina during a practice run held at the beginning of February.

The official name of the maneuver being performed is four-point turn, but the Senior Airman who captured it on a Nikon camera managed to press the shutter button at the perfect moment to capture it inverted. Amazing for us, the usual day at the office for the Major.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows other F-16s.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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