Iraqi and American pilots learn from one another |
Posted 2/3/2009 Updated 2/6/2009
by 2nd Lt. Lynn Aird
71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
2/3/2009 - VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Maj. Terry Bloom returned from his deployment at Forward Operating Base Warrior, Kirkuk, Iraq, in October of 2008 with a stronger appreciation for not only the security and freedom America provides its citizens, but also for the Iraqi's determination to restore their country to its former grand status in the world.
Along with 12 other American pilots, Major Bloom was a member of the Coalition Air Force Training Team that spent a year helping to rebuild the Iraqi air force from the ground up.
The cadre of the CAFTT taught Iraqi student pilots and instructor pilots using the Cessna 172 Skyhawk and the Cessna 208 Caravan. By the end of his deployment, Major Bloom and the rest of the cadre had graduated three pilots, the first Iraqi air force class to receive their wings in six years.
"We had to incorporate a number of teaching styles to compensate for the language barrier and for the fact that they learned differently," Major Bloom explained. "For example, if a student makes a mistake here, then we assign them a chapter to study on their own and tell them to come back and discuss it with us. The Iraqi method is to go home and write the correct procedure down 10 times and present that to the instructor."
Major Bloom also noticed a difference in the Iraqi students' motivations to succeed.
"American students are driven by a sense of self-accomplishment, of pushing themselves to reach their own potential. The Iraqi students, however, are motivated to succeed for the sake of their families and their country," Major Bloom said. "A lot of the students joined to get Iraq back to what it used to be, and in everything they do there's a sense of national pride, of striving to re-establish a sense of military security that we often take for granted. There's just something very honorable about that."
Major Bloom attended Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin AFB, Texas. He then went on to fly the RC-135 at Offutt AFB, Neb. In March 2007, he began working as a T-1 instructor pilot with the 32nd Flying Training Squadron at Vance.
To prepare for his deployment, the major attended a three-week training course in Tulsa, Okla. The course familiarized the pilots with the two Cessna aircraft used at Forward Operating Base Warrior, having one check ride for each.
"We were dealing with much simpler systems in those planes," he explained. "So becoming comfortable flying with them wasn't hard. The biggest challenge was creating an airspace to train in over there."
The CAFTT had to build and design airspace to accommodate the training program, as well as the other aircraft passing through FOB Warrior.
"We had to deal with Army aircraft, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, transient aircraft, just to name a few," Major Bloom said. "And because of threats on the ground we had to be sure the airspace was away from roads, cities and lines of communication."
The tower personnel at FOB Warrior also had to be trained on the new procedures that the CAFTT was instituting.
"They were qualified air traffic controllers, but they weren't familiar with the operation of an undergraduate pilot training base or the patterns we had to fly," Major Bloom said.
The tower personnel and the CAFTT cadre worked to modify the procedures used during training that kept safety and the Undergraduate Pilot Training curriculum in mind. Together they created procedures that are unique to FOB Warrior.
"Being at the tip of the spear, making decisions that would affect the future of an entire air force was an amazing life experience," the Mmajor said. "I enjoyed my time there, and I still keep in touch with the students."