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The F-22 Raptor is the Air Force's newest fighter aircraft. Its combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities.
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Senior Airman Kyara Johnson is an F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team Weapons Specialist and a member of the 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit.

Kyara Johnson, a graduate of Central High School, is the first woman to be named a member of the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team, based at Langley Air Force Base.

The 22-year-old Johnson said she still remembers the mornings during her freshman year of high school when she woke up early to attend ROTC at Central. She said she had no idea during these early morning drills that she would one day join the military, and now laughs about her decision to quit ROTC after one year.

"I didn't really hate it, but it wasn't for me," Johnson said. " But now the military is exactly where I want to be."

Johnson, a senior airman for the Air Force, is now the weapons specialist on the nine-member F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team. The teams travels the country performing precision aerial maneuvers — think Blue Angels — to demonstrate the unique capabilities of the F-22 Raptor, which is 62 feet long.

"It's the most modern and efficient warfare aircraft," Johnson said. "And I love talking to all the kids and families at the shows about this plane."

Johnson said she is also responsible for maintaining the weapons used on the plane, working on the tanks and refueling the jet.

Kyara's mother, Lisa Johnson, still lives in Chattanooga, and said she remembers the day that her daughter told her that she had spoken with a recruiter from the Air Force and planned to join. She said she remembers the excitement Kyara felt that day and also the tears her daughter shed while talking with her over the phone during boot camp.

"She worked so hard for this," Lisa Johnson said. "She tries to play like she is not that excited about being on the team, but I can tell she is. I also can tell she's not finished. She wants to do more."

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at kendi.anderson@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6592.

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