January 7, 2011 (by Lt. Col. Todd Murphey) - The mission of the 56th Fighter Wing is to, "Train the world's greatest F-16 fighter pilots and maintainers, while deploying mission ready warfighters."
The 310th FS class 10-BBG graduates 14 pilots on January 7th. From left: Capts. Brady Marsh, Bryan Brandond, Jacob Coleman, Justin Lewis, Brent Choate, Joe Butters and Darin Docter; 1st Lt. John Powers; Capt. Dan Summers; 1st Lt. John Mann; Capts. Stanley Ruda III, Jonathan Ballard, Duncan McPhee, and Dustin Sanders. [USAF photo by SSgt. Louis Vega Jr.]
Fourteen pilots graduate from the F-16 initial qualification course, Class 10-BBG, in a ceremony Jan. 7. They will cross the stage and enter the Combat Air Forces as just that - the world's greatest.
The graduation culminates nine months of intense training and hard work by the 310th Fighter Squadron and aircraft maintenance unit team, the 56th Training Squadron and countless support agencies that ensured these Top Hat students could fully focus on their mission. This team contributed to more than 1,800 sorties, 310 hours of academics per student and 672 simulators.
The B-course began in March with one month of academics and simulators in the TRS. This rigorous month laid the vital foundation of aircraft systems knowledge and study habits that will sustain them throughout their flying careers.
Once they hit the flightline, they learned the basics of flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Each pilot was given just three dual flights with an instructor to master handling the Viper. The fourth flight was solo.
Following the transition phase, 10-BBG learned to fly the Viper as a weapons system. The tactical portion of their syllabus began with basic fighter maneuvers, one vs. one fights, and ultimately progressed to air combat tactics. ACT entailed four F-16s fighting as many as four adversaries in a challenging real-world combat scenario. During these intense months of training, the students continued receiving academics and flying simulator missions.
Just as they began to feel somewhat comfortable executing the air-to-air mission, the students transitioned to the air-to-ground phase where they began learning to fly in the low altitude environment, employing general purpose bombs, and firing the F-16's 20mm gun. Each student dropped live, GPS
guided and laser guided bombs - a practical experience of what the Air Force brings to the battle. By the end of the course, they were doing all of this under cover of darkness with the additional challenge of using night vision goggles.
Their planning, air-to-air and air-to-ground skills were finally tested in a large force exercise which pitted 32 F-16s against 14 enemy aircraft and simulated surface-to-air threats. This capstone mission ensured they were ready for their operational tours.
The next step for these young fighter pilots will be a few months of mission qualification training at their operational bases where they will work to become combat mission ready. Following MQT, most will be flying along the Korean demilitarized zone or in combat to defend our great nation.
In all aspects of this incredibly demanding course, both in the air and on the ground, the students of 10-BBG excelled and proved themselves worthy to be called Air Force fighter pilots.
Thanks to all the Thunderbolts who helped make this day happen. All of Luke's Airmen can be proud of the newest world-class Viper pilots. To Class 10-BBG, Fight's On!