WWII Fighter Pilot Flies Again With Lockheed Martin in Orlando

A 95-year-old World War II veteran had the chance to fly again thanks to technology created by Lockheed Martin engineers in Orlando, Florida. U.S. Navy veteran and former fighter pilot, Charles “Tom” Snead visited the team to fly the F-35 aircraft using Lockheed Martin Prepar3D simulation and training software so he could experience what it’s like to fly a modern jet.

“Everything that you have out here is very interesting in how it’s progressed,” Tom said.

His daughter and recent Lockheed Martin retiree, Brenda Cook, was proud to watch her father quickly ease back into flying and even take the jet into some barrel rolls. 

“He was a fighter pilot, flying off aircraft carriers, and he never stops talking about flying,” Brenda said. “When he left the Navy after the war, he and my mom started a small business and raised a family, but every time a plane flew over, he would look up wistfully and tell us stories about flying.”

Lockheed Martin software engineer Joe Walker guided the tour for Tom.

“Spending time with WWII veteran Tom Snead helped me to appreciate the vast efforts my team, as well as others throughout our company, put forward to contribute to our freedoms,” Joe said. “Tom has inspired me to keep innovating for the future.”

Learn more about how Lockheed Martin continues to innovate and advance training for soldiers, sailors, aviators and maintainers.

Veteran Charles “Tom” Snead in the Grumman F8F Bearcat during his service in WWII.
Veteran Charles “Tom” Snead in the Grumman F8F Bearcat during his service in WWII. 
Lockheed Martin recent retiree, Brenda Cook of Orlando watches her father a WWII fighter pilot Charles “Tom” Snead fly the F-35 with Prepar3D simulation and training software.
Lockheed Martin recent retiree, Brenda Cook of Orlando watches her father a WWII fighter pilot Charles “Tom” Snead fly the F-35 with Prepar3D simulation and training software.