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Powered flight returns to Air Force Academy

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Mike Hammond
  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
Air Education and Training Command officials are currently testing a program designed to return powered flight to the Air Force Academy's curriculum.

Called "Jump Start," the program marks the beginning of a program meant to enhance the Academy's focus on airmanship in its curriculum.

There have traditionally been three parts to the airmanship instruction: Soaring, parachuting, and powered flight. These elective courses are meant for potential flyers and non-flyers alike. They are intended to round out cadets' knowledge and familiarity with airmanship principles.

The powered flight portion included three parts: academic support, the cadet flying team, and the Academy Flight Screening program.

When the Initial Flight Screening program became operational with the 1st Flying Training Squadron at Pueblo, Colo., in late 2006, the Academy Flight Screening program was cancelled. Though the flight screening aspect was no longer necessary, academy officials sensed a void in airmanship instruction and developed a plan with AETC to return powered flight to the Academy.

"The new powered flight course is a pure airmanship course," said Richard Simpson, U.S. Air Force Academy airmanship program manager. "It isn't a screening program. Powered Flight will give cadets, whether they become flyers or not, a culminating airmanship experience that will help them better grasp the core Air Force missions."

An all-military instructor pilot force, consisting of 65 instructors from AETC and the academy, will train the cadets and mentor them onĀ Air ForceĀ missions.

Powered flight will be implemented in three phases. The current test phase began in January and continues through September. It includes a small number of cadets using a combination of Air Force and aero club aircraft, and is under the operational control of the 306th Flying Training Group, a 19th Air Force unit based at the academy.

Starting in October, the program enters an Interim Service Contract for aircraft and maintenance. During this phase, student numbers will increase to 600 annually.

The final phase is planned to begin in the Fiscal 2012/13 timeframe, with the acquisition of permanent Air Force-owned aircraft. At that time, the student load will increase to a planned 750 juniors and seniors annually.
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