We are excited to continue building our Ready Room of contributing writers.  J. Kirkbride joins us from the Air Force side.  He’s been a First Assignment Instructor Pilot (FAIP) for the past few years and now he’s working his way through the F-15 syllabus.  Welcome aboard J.K.!

The Pilot Training Machine 

The United States is widely regarded as possessing the top air warfare branches in the world. If you asked your standard aviation enthusiast, he or she would most likely state technology, money, or superior engineering as the reason for this. While these are all correct, an often-overlooked reason for the United States’ dominance in aerial warfare would be it’s ability to produce thousands of highly qualified pilots per year to fill it’s cockpits.

In regards to my branch of service (the United States Air Force), we train upwards of 1,100 combat aviators per year. The course that students undertake consists of a year-long program where students, often whom have close to zero prior flying hours, transform from ‘pedestrians to pilots’ in around 200 flying hours. These hours are split roughly even between the T-6A Texan II primary trainer and either the T-38C Talon or T-1A Jayhawk (Road to Wings). In one year, students will go from learning how to- start an airplane, to being proficient in tactical formation, cross-country navigation, low-level operations and complex mission planning.