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Luke fighter pilot tops 1,000 F-35 flying hours

A pilot in the 944th Fighter Wing became the first Luke Air Force Base F-35 pilot to attain 1,000 flying hours in the Air Force’s newest 5th generation fighter aircraft here, February 22, 2021.

Maj. Nicholas Rallo, 944th Operations Group Detachment 2 instructor pilot, prepares for takeoff Feb. 23, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. During this flight Rallo exceeded one thousand flying hours in the F-35, making him the first pilot at Luke AFB and the second in the Air Force Reserve to reach this milestone. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

A pilot in the 944th Fighter Wing became the first Luke Air Force Base F-35 pilot to attain 1,000 flying hours in the Air Force’s newest 5th generation fighter aircraft here, February 22, 2021.

Maj. Nicholas Rallo, F-35 instructor pilot with the 944th Operations Group Detachment 2, poses with his parents in front of an F-35 Lightning II Feb. 23, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. During this flight Rallo exceeded one thousand flying hours in the F-35, making him the first pilot at Luke AFB and the second in the Air Force Reserve to reach this milestone. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.)

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --

Maj. Nicholas “JAKAL” Rallo, an instructor pilot with the 944th Fighter Wing, became the first Luke Air Force Base F-35 Lightning II pilot to attain 1,000 F-35 flying hours here, February 22, 2021.

Maj. Rallo is an Active Guard Reserve member with the 944th Operations Group Detachment 2 and is integrated with the 63rd Fighter Squadron through the Total Force Enterprise that keeps Luke's mission going.  

"I am honored to be a part of Det 2 and to work with our partners in the 63rd Fighter Squadron," said Rallo.  "I am lucky to have such a great team to work with and to have been one of the first pilots at Luke to transition to the F-35."

After 10 years as a fighter pilot flying the F-16C and a brief time flying the MC-12W, Rallo got the opportunity to transition to the F-35 in 2015.

Rallo’s achievement also makes him only the second operational F-35 pilot in the Air Force Reserve and the fourth in the entire Air Force to reach 1,000 hours in this aircraft.

"I am humbled to be in the first group of F-35 pilots to achieve this milestone," said Rallo.  "I love being a member of the Air Force Reserve and to be able to call Arizona my home.”

His 16 years of active duty and Reserve experience has given him valuable knowledge that he leverages to train incoming fighter pilots. 

"I love the job I do training the Air Force's best fighter pilots," Rallo shared.  "Our Total Force Integration makes us unstoppable and I believe that achieving big goals is just a matter of time, persistence, focus and hard work."

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