U.S. Air Force F-16 And F-35 Demo Teams Announce Their New Pilots | Aviation

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The new F-16 Viper Demo Pilot Capt. Taylor “FEMA” Hiester (left) and F-35 Demo Pilot Capt. Melanie “MACH” Kluesner (right). (U.S. Air Force photos)

Capt. Taylor “FEMA” Hiester and Capt. Melanie “MACH” Kluesner became the new certified pilots of the F-16 Viper Demo Team and F-35A Lightning II Demo Team, respectively, during the Air Combat Command Heritage Flight Training Course.

The U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command certified on March 1, 2024, the new pilots and commanders of the F-16 Viper Demo Team and the F-35A Lightning II Demo Team, during the Air Combat Command Heritage Flight Training Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Capt. Taylor “FEMA” Hiester will take the place of Capt. Aimee “Rebel” Fiedler after her two years assignment with the Viper Demo Team, while Capt. Melanie “MACH” Kluesner will take the place of Maj. Kristin “BEO” Wolfe after she completed four years with the F-35 Demo Team.

Capt. Hiester is an instructor pilot assigned to the 55th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. He began his career as an active duty Total Force Integration pilot assigned to the Air National Guard’s 175th Fighter Squadron at Sioux Falls Air National Guard Base, South Dakota. Before moving to Shaw, Hiester also served in the A-29 Light Attack program and as a Combat Aviation Advisor.

“I always thought that the F-16 was the perfect fighter jet, it’s got smooth lines and it’s mostly engine and it’s got this great big bubble canopy that puts nothing between you and where you’re going”, says Capt. Hiester in his video presentation on the Viper Demo team social media accounts. “As a kid I always imagined that flying would be like having the superpower of wearing a jetpack that could take you anywhere, and I’m thrilled to report that’s true. We found a way to merge man with machine and this year our team will travel the world and show you why the F-16 still keeps the enemy awake at…

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