August 23, 2016 (by SSgt. Alex Fox Echols III) - The largest class of F-22 Raptor student pilots graduated from Tyndall’s Basic Course Aug. 19, 2016. Twelve students completed the seven-month-long course, doubling the amount students in previous classes.
Tyndall’s F-22 Raptor Basic Course graduating class 16-ABR gathers in Hangar 5 after their graduation on August 19th, 2016. Twelve students completed the seven-month-long course, making it the largest F-22 B-Course class in history. [USAF photo by SSgt. Alex Fox Echols III]
“This F-22 B-Course is the largest we have ever graduated,” said Col. Joseph Kunkle, 325th Fighter Wing vice commander. “That really represents the maturation of the F-22 as a weapons system. We are finally getting to the point where the only way to get into the F-22 is through pilot training. We’re putting our youngest pilots through this course, and they are doing extremely well.”
The B-Course training consists of approximately 400 hours of academics, more than 45 hours of simulator flying and on average, 45 hours of actual flight time in the F-22 Raptor.
“A lot of these officers show up out of their Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals course knowing the very basics about flying an airplane,” said Capt. Troy Pierce, 43rd Fighter Squadron A-Flight commander. “We take them from that level of knowledge to being a combat ready wingman within six months.”
The training culminates in Savannah, Georgia, during an exercise called Sentry Savannah, the Air National Guard’s largest fighter integration, air-to-air training exercise. The exercise focuses on dissimilar air combat training and gives the B-Course students the opportunity to fly with and against multiple unique airframes, each with its own challenges.
“The Savannah exercise is like the capstone to their graduation,” said Pierce. “All the training that we give them culminates to determine if they can perform in a dynamic and stressful environment and if they have what it takes to be combat ready wingmen.”
One student from each B-Course class is awarded the Top Gun award for being the most proficient pilot during Sentry Savannah by producing the most valid kills and least simulated deaths during the exercise. This class, Capt. Michael Koslow, 43rd Fighter Squadron F-22 student pilot, earned the prestigious award.
“It’s quite an honor to come into the Raptor community,” Koslow said. “I know there is a lot more ahead of me. I’m excited to graduate the B-Course, and I’m excited to keep learning and see what is next to come.”
After graduating from the B-Course, the pilots go on to operational F-22 units around the Air Force. Koslow will join Tyndall’s 95th Fighter Squadron Boneheads.
The F-22 pilots who graduated in class 16-ABR are:
- 1st Lt. James Agee
- 1st Lt. Patrick Bowlds
- Capt. Madison Burgess
- 1st Lt. Cody Deacon
- 1st Lt. Josiah Franklin
- 1st Lt. Philip Hawkins
- Capt. Michael Koslow
- 1st Lt. Ryan Kunce
- 1st Lt. Kyle Nazarek
- 1st Lt. Robert Pupilis
- Capt. Sean Schiess
- Capt. Dustin Woodside