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New 50th FTS commander steps up

Col. Justin Spears, 14th Operations Group commander, hands Lt. Col. Paul Anderson, 50th Flying Training Squadron commander, the 50th FTS guidon at the 50th FTS change of command ceremony, April 30, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The advanced phase of undergraduate pilot training is conducted by the 50th FTS where students fly the T-38C Talon trainer aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

Col. Justin Spears, 14th Operations Group commander, hands Lt. Col. Paul Anderson, 50th Flying Training Squadron commander, the 50th FTS guidon at the 50th FTS change of command ceremony, April 30, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The advanced phase of undergraduate pilot training is conducted by the 50th FTS where students fly the T-38C Talon trainer aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

Lt. Col. Paul Anderson, 50th Flying Training Squadron commander, gives a speech at the 50th FTS change of command ceremony, April 30, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Anderson is an experienced fighter pilot with hours flown in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-5 and T-38C Talon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

Lt. Col. Paul Anderson, 50th Flying Training Squadron commander, gives a speech at the 50th FTS change of command ceremony, April 30, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Anderson is an experienced fighter pilot with hours flown in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-5 and T-38C Talon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

Col. Justin Spears, 14th Operations Group commander, pins on the meritorious service medal, 3rd oak leaf cluster, on Lt. Col. Nathaniel Wilds, former 50th Flying Training Squadron commander, for his service, April 30, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Wilds served as commander of the 50th FTS from April 2019-April 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

Col. Justin Spears, 14th Operations Group commander, pins on the meritorious service medal, 3rd oak leaf cluster, on Lt. Col. Nathaniel Wilds, former 50th Flying Training Squadron commander, for his service, April 30, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Wilds served as commander of the 50th FTS from April 2019-April 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

Lt. Col. Paul Anderson, 50th Flying Training Squadron commander, brings out a gift for the former 50th FTS commander at the 50th FTS change of command ceremony, April 30, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Anderson assumed command of the 50th FTS from Lt. Col. Nathaniel Wilds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

Lt. Col. Paul Anderson, 50th Flying Training Squadron commander, brings out a gift for the former 50th FTS commander at the 50th FTS change of command ceremony, April 30, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Anderson assumed command of the 50th FTS from Lt. Col. Nathaniel Wilds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

Members of Team BLAZE stand during the commencement of the 50th Flying Training Squadron change of command ceremony, April 30, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The mission of the 50th FTS is to train combat pilots for America and partner nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

Members of Team BLAZE stand during the commencement of the 50th Flying Training Squadron change of command ceremony, April 30, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The mission of the 50th FTS is to train combat pilots for America and partner nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss.-- Lt. Col. Nathaniel Wilds relinquished command to the new incoming 50th Flying Training Squadron commander, Lt. Col. Paul Anderson during a change of command ceremony April 30, 2021.

Anderson is an experienced fighter pilot flying jets such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-5 and T-38C Talon. He was also the previous director of operations at the 50th FTS.

“The snakes have me for two years, so let’s make it something we are proud of,” said Anderson. Let’s mold something that is based on a culture of excellence, service blessed by God, with the honor to shape the next generation of combat aviators.”

The 50th FTS, otherwise known as the striking snakes, is the initial gateway to combat aviation for student pilots going through the advanced phase of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training.

This phase of training consists of 110 hours of flight instruction in the T-38C Talon where students learn advanced aircraft handling, tactical navigation, fluid maneuvering and an increased emphasis in two- and four-ship formation. Students graduating from this track of training will go on to fly America’s fighter and bomber aircraft.

In his time as commander, Lt. Col. Nathaniel Wilds led the squadron to fly over 20,000 sorties, graduated over 200 combat pilots, and navigated through the challenges of COVID-19.

“I couldn’t be more excited for the future of the world famous striking snakes, it has truly been an honor to be the commander here,” said Wilds. “This is an amazing and resilient squadron dedicated to the mission, each other, service, heritage and to honoring the fallen.”

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