/ Modified mar 11, 2022 4:53 p.m.

Air show heritage pilots train at Davis Monthan

Pilots of WWII and Korean War-era fighter planes learn to fly wing-to-wing with 21st supersonic jets

P-51 Fighter plane WWII-era P-51 fighter sits on the flight line at Davis Monthan Air Force Base
Duncan Moon/AZPM

Football fans at this year's Super Bowl were treated to a flyover from Air Force warplanes spanning more than 70 years of service.

The pilots made a difficult assignment look easy and the training that made it all possible happened in Tucson.

Each year, Air Force and civilian pilots descend on Davis Monthan Air Force to begin the process of special heritage training.

The Air Force sends its most modern fighter jets from around the country as well as its top demonstration pilots.

Those pilots work with civilian Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation pilots flying World War Two and Korean War fighters - learning how to fly seamlessly together wing to wing 2-3 feet from some of the Air Force's newest top-of-the line fighters

Greg Anders is one of the civilian heritage flight pilots.

He flew combat missions in both A-10's and B-52's during his 23 years in the Air Force.

When he retired, 20 years ago, he took up flying 19-40's era P-51's so he knows what it's like from both cockpits.

"What we do is very different," he says. "We make it look easy but that's because we get to do this training course. Its very hard to fly an F-22 with an old WWII aircraft and fly the WWII aircraft with the F-22. It takes a lot of training, a lot of practice. We're flying the P-51 at the top of its performance envelope and the F-22 at the bottom of its performance envelope. It's a pretty high skill set."

He says he still get chills every time he goes up on one of these heritage flights in his P-51.

Capt. Sky Lesh, the project officer for the Heritage training at Davis Monthan says for the Air Force it is vital to keep its history alive, and this is a powerful - and visual - way to do it.

"It's such an important think to keep all those WWII and Korean War history – all their stories, what they did, their missions, to keep that relevant. Its awe-inspiring, kinda gives you chills," he says

Once the training is complete the heritage pilots are qualified to fly in airshows around the country and around the world in the coming year, including the traditional flyover at next year's Super Bowl.

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