New PACAF F-16 Demo pilot certification flight

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Melanie Bulow-Gonterman
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

On a day-to-day basis, Maj. Josiah “Sirius” Gaffney works at the 35th Operation Support Squadron as the assistant director of operations, helping to ensure Misawa’s airfield, range and support capacities are providing the highest level of quality and readiness possible for the two fighter squadrons on base and any aircraft that utilizes Misawa’s airspace or training assets. However, as of April 30, 2020, he stepped into a new role as the new Pacific Air Forces’ F-16 Fighting Falcon Demonstration Team pilot, at Misawa Air Base, Japan.

Following 15 minutes of rapid passes and high-flying maneuvers, Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, 5th Air Force commander, certified Gaffney and his team of safety observers and maintainers on behalf of Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., PACAF commander.

“The PACAF F-16 demonstration team is one of 5th Air Force’s best community engagement tools and enables us to showcase the F-16’s capabilities in maintaining the defense of Japan,” said Schneider. “I am proud to be able to certify
Maj. Gaffney as the next Demo team pilot.

He’s ready to demonstrate our lethality and will be a fantastic ambassador in building partnerships and alliances in the Indo-Pacific.”

Gaffney assumed command from Capt. Jake Impellizzeri, call sign “Primo,” who served as the PACAF F-16 Demo Team pilot for two years.

Leading up to the certification, Gaffney completed 35 training sorties that began with riding behind Impellizzeri in a two-seater F-16, progressing over the course of 5 weeks into solo flights.

During the certification, Gaffney stayed in constant contact with Impellizzeri, who was the safety observer on the ground during the certification flight, relaying his altitude and speed before entering each maneuver.

With COVID-19 threats causing the cancellation or postponement of many festivals and airshows throughout the region, it is unsure when Gaffney will fly his first air show. However, the team will continue to practice once a week to maintain proficiency.

“I'm thrilled at the opportunity to execute the PACAF F-16 Demonstration Team's mission to showcase U.S. air combat capability and the dedication of the Airmen who make that capability possible,” said Gaffney. “We are looking forward to inspiring strengthened relationships and goodwill with our friends and security partners throughout the Indo-Pacific.”

The PACAF F-16 Demo Team provides spectators a front row seat to the raw power and maneuverability of the F-16. One of the team's most important priorities when attending air shows is to engage with guests on a personal level. The team members dedicate several hours answering people's questions, signing autographs and taking pictures.

Brown congratulated Maj. Gaffney on his selection as the next PACAF F-16 Demo Team pilot and reinforced the importance of the team’s outreach mission.

“The cultivation of relationships on and off the flightline is critical in building our alliances and partnerships across the Indo-Pacific,” said Brown. “I look forward to the new audiences Maj. Gaffney will engage in his new position and the continued demonstration of our commitment to this region.”