A familiar sight on the Anchorage skyline Wednesday, as the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors returned to the air after a four month stand down. The U.S. Air Force grounded the entire fleet on May 3rd after 12 pilots reported hypoxia-like symptoms.
"We now have enough insight from recent studies and investigations that a return to flight is prudent and appropriate," U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said in a statement released on the Air Force website.
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson hosts 40 F-22s and about 60 pilots. According to Air Force officials, the pilots are ready to get back in the air.
"The maintainers and pilots are all fired up and ready to be back flying again," Air Force Col. Derek France 3rd Wing Ops Group Commander said during an interview at JBER Wednesday morning.
In November 2010, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson based pilot Capt. Jeffrey Haney died outside Denali National Park when the F-22 he was flying crashed. The cause of that crash has not been released to the public, but Col. France says hypoxia-like symptoms have been ruled out.
The Air Force says it made some slight modifications to the plane, and also to the safety gear pilots wear.
"The ongoing safety investigation never pin pointed an exact cause," France said. "They learned a lot of things about the airplane and were able to take that knowledge and mitigate the risk associated with that."
A safety report is expected to be released sometime later this year.