The story of Fort Worth is the story of American aviation. This week, I was reminded of the tremendous and historic impact our district and great city have had on the nation’s aviation legacy. From Fort Worth’s first flight in 1911 to the exciting aviation innovations coming from our industry partners like Bell Helicopter, AVX Aircraft, Elbit Systems, and Lockheed Martin, our district continues to write the modern history of flight.
Fort Worth played an active role in producing aircraft that have flown and fought for our nation since World War I. During the Great War, the U.S. Navy utilized our city’s helium production industry to build blimps used in the war. World War II and the post-war years were no different. Fort Worth businesses and North Texans built thousands of B-24 Liberator bombers, B-32 Dominator bombers and other aircraft like the B-36 Peacemaker and the F-111 Aardvark.
Today, Fort Worth’s aviation defense industry is stronger than ever. This week, I visited the hardworking Texans at Lockheed Martin as they work to build the F-35 aircraft that our nation’s military relies on to defend America’s skies. The F-35 program is a staple of the Fort Worth aviation industry and will provide thousands of careers for decades to come. I also had the chance to join Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and see, first hand, Bell’s V-280 aircraft that is poised to modernize Army aviation for decades at their Arlington-based Flight Research Center.
Lastly, I joined the Fort Worth Aviation Museum to celebrate the pending-transfer of the second-ever F-16 fighter jet back home to Meacham Field. I was excited to partner with the museum and the Air Force to bring the iconic YF-16 back to its birthplace so our children and grandchildren can call it their own for decades to come.
From blimps to the world’s most advanced fifth-generation fighter aircraft, our city has been there. Fort Worth is the driving force behind our nation’s defense aviation industry. In these difficult times of heightened tensions abroad, I am proud knowing that the Texans in our district will continue to stand tall and ready to protect America just as we have since our first flight over 109 years ago.