"Lots of power, incredible maneuverability and the displays give you unbelievable amounts of what we call situational awareness of what’s going on in the airspace," said Lt. Col. James "Saw" Sage.
For security reasons, the media was allowed only 20 feet up to the planes.
Standing on the reef runway to witness the Raptors taking off, 75,000 pounds of thrust is deafening -- and impressive.
"It’s incredible. It never gets old. Every time I take off, it's just such a privilege to be able to do what I love to do. Fly this aircraft, and also serve my country at the same time," said Sage. "How does it fly? It flies kind of like an F-15 on steroids."
As for the oxygen supply problem that delayed the arrival of the final planes and grounded the fleet for a time, the military is confident that's been solved.
"I’m 100 percent confident they've solved this problem and I fly them every day and myself, my family, we’re totally happy about flying this aircraft," said Sage.
The F-22 Raptors have never yet been used in combat operations. But finally having a full squadron of stealth fighters based in Hawaii, ready to mobilize in minutes, means enhanced security and stability at home and in the Pacific.
What also makes this squadron unique is the Hawaii Air National Guard and the Air Force share responsibility for flying and maintaining the Raptors at Hickam.