Laughlin and AETC: A legacy of air power Published Nov. 5, 2021 By Senior Airman David Phaff 47th Flying Training Wing public affairs LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Every year, hundreds of U.S. Air Force pilots earn their wings and embark on a journey to stake their claim in the pages of history. For 80 years, each and every pilots’ story has started from within the Air Education Training Command. Laughlin Air Force Base, one of 12 installations within the major command, has been training pilots for nearly 50 of the 80 years since the MAJCOM’s activation Jan. 23, 1942. Together, working hand in hand, AETC and Laughlin train the best pilots America and her allies have to offer. “Today, AETC continues to build on its incredible heritage as the First Command, marked by exceptional Airmen and dedicated professionals who are ready to perform the mission anywhere, anytime,” said Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of AETC. The future of our Air Force begins with the foundation that was laid in 1942. Throughout everyone's Air Force career, they will spend time in AETC learning not only their job, but also what it means to be a United States Airman. “Multi-capable Airmen have an agile mindset, can understand commander intent and mission type orders and possess the wherewithal to move out and be successful,” Webb said. “Therefore, aspects like empowerment, initiative, analytical and critical thinking and speed, all become very important for our Airmen.” Airpower may have started in the First Command, but Laughlin has certainly perfected the process over the last 50 years, having become the command’s number one pilot producing machine. Over 300 newly-minted pilots leave Del Rio each year and try to follow the footsteps of such revered Laughlin graduates as Medal of Honor recipient Joe Jackson, Vietnam war hero Richard Glenn Rutan, astronaut Sidney Gutierrez, and retired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. “We have a legacy to live up to here at Laughlin,” said Col. Craig Prather, 47th Flying Training Wing commander. “To live up to it, we’re integrating proven methods with advanced capabilities, technology and quality instruction to prepare our newest pilots for whatever may get thrown their way in the future.” The training environment allows Airmen to outperform, out think, and out innovate competitors when they head to operational units. Through it all, dedicated instructors have demonstrated leadership by example to develop America’s sons and daughters while ensuring that the Air Force’s newest aviators are second to none. Both AETC and Laughlin have contributed to the Air Force’s story of air dominance throughout the years. Undoubtedly, both will continue penning chapters for many years to come.