June 18, 2015 (by A1C Emily A. Kenney) - On June 16, 12 F-16s arrived at Holloman Air Force Base as part of the 314th Fighter Squadron stand up scheduled for July 14. The arrival of these aircraft not only signifies the new beginning for the 314th FS, but also a continuation in training the world's best F-16 fighter pilots at Holloman.
F-16s from the 308th FS taxi toward their hangars as a new tenant unit at Holloman AFB on June 16th, 2015. Luke AFB has transferred the 54th Fighter Group, which consists of two squadrons in order to conduct their F-16 training in Holloman’s airspace. [USAF photo by SrA. Aaron Montoya]
"The 314th is a tenant unit from Luke Air Force Base," said Lt. Col. Heath Wimberly, 314th FS
director of operations. "As the 308th FS at Luke graduated their most recent class, they're beginning their deactivation. However, we still need to train F-16 pilots, so we moved that aircraft here to continue to be able to accomplish the flying training mission."
However smooth the transition to Holloman was, Wimberly said the move has been in the works since January and thousands of man-hours went into making it happen.
"We found out the 314th stand up was in July and we started working it in January," said Wimberly. "We begin class the day after we stand up, so we knew we had to get to work."
On July 15, the day after the stand up, the 314th will begin training instructor pilots.
"We have 10 pilots here that are just waiting be trained to become instructor pilots," said Wimberly. "Some of them already have experience as instructors, so we just need to refresh them. It should take between a few weeks and about four months to have them all trained and ready to go."
Shortly after the instructor pilots have finished their training, the 314th will begin training student pilots.
Wimberly said as the 314th stands up, the 314th Aircraft Maintenance Unit is also standing up, bringing hundreds of new airmen to Holloman.
"We couldn't do what we do without these airmen," said Wimberly. "Without them, our jets would only fly for a day. They're the ones out there sweating in the hot sun and getting the mission done, without having the actual luxuries of flying the jets. I look forward to having these new airmen here at Holloman working on our jets and helping us train the world's best fighter pilots."