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Undergraduate Pilot Training; there’s an app for that

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U.S. and foreign pilots assigned to the 80th Flying Training Wing stand at parade rest in a hangar that supports the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. The 80th FTW earned the runner-up title in the Mission Accomplishment category of this year’s Air Education and Training Command Innovation Challenge for their work creating an app that allows students to study from mobile devices. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kyle Gese)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Becoming an Air Force pilot requires more than flying a set number of hours in the air. Pilots must learn to reference training manuals, emergency procedure guidance, and a variety of publications like the back of their hand.


The 80th Flying Training Wing entered this year’s Air Education and Training Command Innovation Challenge after successfully creating an app to make more than 1,500 pages of necessary documents available to its pilots via handheld device.

“The mobility factor of the app can’t be undervalued,” said Lt. Col. Jason Colborn, former 80th Flying Training Wing director of staff and current Pilot Training Next commander. “Students away from a government computer, on a cross country flight, on temporary duty or at home can study pilot training materials effectively and efficiently.”


The concept for the app is simple. Student pilots need to become fluent in a great number of supporting publications, so the 80th FTW put those publications into technology everyone uses: cell phones and tablets.

As home of the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program, the 80th FTW’s mission extends far beyond training pilots for the Air Force. It was important for the app to be made accessible on all U.S. and foreign mobile devices.

Colborn said users must be sent an invite to retrieve a password and join the app. Then, students may begin studying from anywhere at any time. User access is disabled upon completion of pilot training.

The app also includes a feature not previously available to students. Links to flying training videos are provided to help pilots better understand the maneuvers and procedures referenced in the publications.

AETC’s Continuum of Learning encourages units to develop training that’s easily consumable for today’s young minds. The majority of students attending undergraduate pilot training are under the age of 30, meaning most of them grew up in the internet age with YouTube saved in their favorites bar.


“By enabling easier access we’re further enabling today’s young pilots to study more effectively. In today’s culture, the use of modern technology is intuitive to the younger generation,” said Colborn.

The 80th FTW earned the runner-up title in the Mission Accomplishment category of this year’s AETC Innovation Challenge for their work creating the app.

UPT is designed to challenge students mentally and physically, but the intent is not to over-complicate the learning process. Leaders at the 80th FTW plan to continue looking for ways to innovate training and adapt to emerging technology. 


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