US Rep. Bill Young will “fly” an F-35 in Pinellas Park today

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On Monday, U.S. Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young gets an opportunity to fly the world’s most advanced military aircraft—the F-35 Lightning.

Not quite the real thing, though. But Young will be as close to flying as anyone can come, that is without leaving the ground.

Young will be “flying” the world’s most advanced interactive cockpit simulator, the F-35 II, at the Lockheed Martin facility in Pinellas Park. It accurately simulates the first-ever fifth generation fighter, which is the world’s most advanced military aircraft.

The event begins at 10:30 a.m. 

The simulator is a fully interactive cockpit, with all the sights and sounds of the real thing. It gives users a completely realistic experience of the fighter’s technologies and combat capabilities.

Young is Chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee; before Monday’s flight, he will join a group of local officials, employees and reporters to speak on the role the F-35 plays in national security. In his 42 years in Congress, Young has built a reputation for extensive expertise on defense and security matters.

Lockheed Martin will also allow a few reporters to “fly” the demonstrator, getting the chance for them to experience the fighter’s agility and advanced stealth operations. They are the features that make the F-35 the most capable multi-role fighter in the world.

Officials will also be available to provide detailed explanations of the systems, as well as give interviews.

The event is to help focus on the positive economic effects Lockheed Martin and the F-35 programs have had on Florida’s economy. The Bethesda, MD-based global security and aerospace company provides both support and production for the program, by supplying the fighter essential detail parts.

The Lockheed Martin offices in Pinellas Park are at 9300 28 Street N.

For more information about the Lockheed Martin simulator event, contact Michelle Todd at 813-598-9374 or

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.