Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas --
A little over a month after a hail storm devastated Laughlin Air Force Base, Air Education and Training Command-wide teamwork is still apparent in recovery efforts.
Though recovery started immediately to get the base infrastructure repaired, there was not a quick-fix for the long-term consequences of reduced flying capabilities that resulted from damaged aircraft.
That is where other pilot training bases stepped up to ensure that Laughlin can continue its mission to graduate pilot trainees in a timely fashion.
“Our long-term reconstitution is underway with the help of our great enterprise,” said Col. Thomas Shank, 47th Flying Training Wing commander. “Randolph, Columbus and Vance Air Force bases loaned us the planes and help we needed to keep our training mission on track. Without them, it would have been extremely difficult to continue to graduate pilots on time.”
With about 15 classes of 20 to 25 students each graduating every year, the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training mission involves detailed planning on a tight schedule. In order to get each student the almost 200 hours necessary to graduate, the wing has to launch more than 200 flights per day.
The aircraft on loan from the other bases are allowing Laughlin’s student pilots to continue training at the required high-speed pace until Laughlin’s damaged planes are repaired.
"It's times like these where the Air Force wingman concept is on full display," said Col. Bryan Runkle, 47th Operations Group commander. "It's just great to see the Airmen from across AETC step up like they have to help us accomplish our mission."