by Elizabeth Gosselin and Keith Phillips || AHL On The Beat Archive
LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. … Air Combat Command’s F-22 Demonstration Team hosted the Norfolk Admirals hockey team on Dec. 4 to show the players the Air Force’s newest jet and allow them to meet some of the airmen who fly and maintain it.
The players were treated to an F-22 demonstration by Maj. Paul "Max" Moga, showcasing the jet’s precision aerial maneuvers and demonstrating the unique capabilities of the world’s only operational fifth-generation fighter aircraft.
"It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we definitely will never forget," said right wing and alternate captain Norm Milley. "The F-22 Raptor was unbelievable in how it handled… Max put on a good show for us."
At lunch, both teams had the opportunity to chat with Langley airmen, including the 1st Fighter Wing’s vice commander and mission support group commander. The airmen and players found they had more in common than they previously thought: specifically, the need to rely on the whole team to accomplish the mission.
"We discussed the importance of teamwork both in the air and on the ice," said Col. Jeffrey Harrigian, 1st FW vice commander. "Our conversations provided all of us great insight and we each left with a better understanding of the other team. This visit was an outstanding opportunity for us to get to know the Admirals and help them understand what the 1st Fighter Wing and the Air National Guard’s 192nd Fighter Wing do to accomplish our mission."
The Admirals are in their eighth season of American Hockey League action and their first season as the top developmental affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning. This was the team’s first visit to Langley.
"I’ve been around hockey most of my life and have a huge amount of respect for the entire Admirals team," said Maj. Moga. "I know how much blood, sweat and tears these guys give to play the game and represent Hampton Roads with style. Hopefully, after today, that respect is mutual."
The F-22 Demonstration Team has performed before more than 5 million people at more than 18 various air shows and events around the United States and Canada from April through November 2007.
"’Awesome’ is the only word that can describe it," said Admirals head coach Steve Stirling. "Major Moga and the entire demonstration team went above and beyond the call of duty both in the air and with the amount of time they spent with us in and around the jet."