Happy Sunday, FighterSweep Fans! We know you’ve brought you a few B-Course videos, and though this one is in a similar vein, it’s more of a compilation of the different phases a student F-16 pilot goes through in order to reach their initial qualification in the jet. You’ll see BFM, SAT (surface attack training), CAS, low-levels, and some cloud surfing–all from the perspective of a student Viper Driver in the 310th Fighter Squadron “Tophats.”
The squadron falls under Air Education and Training Command (AETC) and is a part of the 56th Operations Group at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. They fly the Block 42 F-16CM, training brand-new Viper Drivers for duty in the Combat Air Forces (CAF) and Air National Guard.
It traces its roots back to February of 1942, where it began as the 310th Pursuit Squadon (Interceptor). The unit, which adopted its original “Tophat” name in September 1987, has earned two Distinguished Unit Citations, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, and nine Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards. The unit served with distinction in the South Pacific during World War II, as well as during the Korean War.
It briefly spent time in the Tactical Missile business, and was inactivated for a period of time afterward. In 1969, the unit was reactivated at Luke as the 310th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron. It has been in the training business ever since, first with the A-7 Corsair, then with the F-4 Phantom, and now with the F-16.
This is the squadron patch of the 310th:
Blue and yellow are the Air Force colors. Blue alludes to the sky, the primary theater of Air Force operations. Yellow refers to the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel. The skull represents death and the possibility that the unit may be called to defend the peace at any time. The dice symbolize that the squadron will win, with a natural seven, in its gamble with death. The lightning bolts denote the weapons systems employed by the squadron.
Tophats Rule–Dressed To Kill!
(Featured photo by Jason Hyatt)