South Carolina-based F-35 fighter jet makes rare White House flyover

An F-35 from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort conducted a rare low flyover of the White House in honor of Polish president Andrzej Duda’s visit and Poland’s offer to buy dozens of the advanced jets from the United States.

Two F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 were tasked for the flyover, but one remained on standby as the other made two passes — one from the side, and one low and slow that took it over the Washington Monument, up the South Lawn and over the White House.

From the street, dozens of tourists and assembled media watched as the jet flew approximately 1,000 feet above them.

The airspace over the White House is tightly restricted and it is unusual for any aircraft not transporting the president to fly over it at this low altitude.

President Duda waved to the jet as it passed overhead. The flyover was requested by the White House earlier this week to mark the visit. President Donald Trump said that Poland would buy 32 of the Air Force version of the jet, the F-35A.

“Moments ago, we witnessed that impressive flyover of this cutting-edge F-35 as it flew over the White House and actually came to a, pretty close to a halt over the White House,” Trump said. “That plane can land dead straight. And it’s one of the few in the world that can do that, consider to be the greatest fighter jet in the world.”

The aircraft cost about $90 million each and are produced by Fort Worth-based Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.

Tara Copp is the national military and veterans affairs correspondent for McClatchy. She has reported extensively through the Middle East, Asia and Europe to cover defense policy and its impact on the lives of service members. She was previously the Pentagon bureau chief for Military Times and a senior defense analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office. She is the author of the award-winning book “The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story.”