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Achievement unlocked; SUPT class 22-05 graduates

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss.-- In 1969 Columbus Air Force Base returned to Air Training Command (now known as the Air Education and Training Command) and resumed its original mission of training world class pilots. Since 1972, the host organization of the base has been the 14th Flying Training Wing.

Now, 50 years later, Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 22-05 has joined its predecessors in earning their wings. Each student has flown nearly 200 hours over a 54-week training period in the T-6A Texan II and T-1A Jayhawk or T-38C Talon, depending on which type of aircraft they have been selected to fly.

Joining their graduation was distinguished guest U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, Headquarters U.S. Special Operations Command vice commander, who gave advice to the graduates and shared what their futures might hold as they progress in the Air Force.

“These women and men are going to be our future for 10, 20, maybe 30 years as they go forth in their career,” said Bauerfeind. “This is the very beginning of that journey, so for me to be able to play a small part and offer advice that they may have a chance to reflect upon is an honor for me.”

Bauerfeind earned his wings in 1992 and he has flown more than 3,500 hours in the MC-130E, MC-130H and MQ-9 aircraft. He has commanded special operations forces at the squadron, group, wing and theater special operations command levels. He is currently responsible for planning, coordinating, and executing actions with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the services and other government agencies in the National Capital Region on behalf of the Commander, USSOCOM.

“At the initial phase in a pilot’s career the biggest thing they should work on is becoming a technical and tactical expert,” Bauerfeind said. “To be the most value possible to our Air Force they need to become a master at their aircraft. In time they will become leaders but at the early stages just focusing on the technical and tactical mastery should be their main priority.”

Throughout their time at Columbus AFB, students learned the basics of aircraft control, including takeoff and landing techniques and aerobatics, while learning to use aircraft instruments to fly and navigate in all types of weather. They gained their skills in the primary phase of SUPT, along with completing hours of flight-related classroom instruction.

In their next phase of training, student pilots entered a specialized track specific training depending on the type aircraft they were selected to fly. Students either moved on to the T-38 fighter and bomber track, or went to the T-1 tanker and airlift track. Any student selected to fly helicopters proceeded to Fort Rucker, Ala., to conduct training with the U.S. Army.

“The training needs to be intense to prepare for them for stressful situations,” said Bauerfeind. “By doing the hard work and becoming an expert, you gain a confidence needed to face the many different situations you can find yourself in.”

At graduation, a select few pilots are awarded for their distinguishing efforts. Possible awards include the Order of Daedalians AETC Commander’s Trophy, Distinguished Graduate Award, Air Force Association Award, Academic Award, Military Training Award, and Flying Training Award.

“I am excited for the journey these pilots are about to start because it is an amazing experience,” said Bauerfeind. “I am nearing the end of my journey and I had so much fun along the way. Now it is their turn to take these great opportunities.”

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