The U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper 50th Anniversary Paint Scheme

ASIM, may 17

On May 15, 2024, the U.S. Air Force F-16 Viper Demonstration Team revealed a special 50th-anniversary paint scheme at Edwards Air Force Base, California, honoring the original aircraft. The red, white, and blue scheme replicates the livery of the YF-16 prototype, first flown in 1974. The team, working with the 412th Test Wing, completed the project in less than eight weeks, a process that typically takes around three months. Capt. Taylor “FEMA” Hiester, the team’s commander and pilot, had expressed his desire to repaint the aircraft in the prototype scheme to commemorate the beginning of the F-16’s legacy.

Tony Accurso, logistics manager for the 416th Flight Test Squadron and director for the Edwards AFB F-16 50th Anniversary event, played a crucial role as a liaison and historical advisor. His passion for the F-16 Fighting Falcon and extensive knowledge of the YF-16 prototype were instrumental in bringing the design to life. Accurso emphasized the significance of celebrating 50 years of the F-16 Viper and the pride felt at Edwards for supporting both the Viper Demo Team and the anniversary celebration. The YF-16 prototype had its unofficial first flight on January 20, 1974, following a mechanical mishap during a high-speed taxi test, with the official maiden flight on February 2, 1974. In 2015, the Viper East and West teams merged to form the current F-16 Viper Demonstration Team, which will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the F-16 Fighting Falcon at 25 shows across four countries in 2024, representing Air Combat Command and the Air Force.

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