Off Into the Sunset

The F-15 West Coast demonstration team flew its final performance May 1 at Eglin AFB, Fla. The Eglin unit is formally disbanding as the base transitions from operating F-15s to become the F-35 initial joint training site per BRAC 2005. “It was a bittersweet moment,” said Lt. Col. Bill Edwards, aerial events chief for Eglin’s Air Armament Center, of the team’s aerial finale. He presented the 10-man team with farewell gifts after Capt. Sam Joplin finished his F-15C performance with two World War II-era P-51 Mustangs in the skies above the base. The demo team began flying in 1983. Initially based at Holloman AFB, N.M., the team moved to Tyndall AFB, Fla., before settling at Eglin. It retained the West Coast moniker throughout. The team’s final performance was part of the reunion of Eglin’s 33rd Fighter Wing, whose legacy will pass from Air Combat Command to Air Education and Training Command at the end of September as the base undertakes its planned role as the F-35 joint training schoolhouse. (Eglin report by Chrissy Cuttita)