U.S. Air Force pilots tour an A-10 Thunderbolt II at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2021.
U.S. Air Force pilots tour an A-10 Thunderbolt II at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2021.

US Air Force 20th Fighter Wing Immerses First Assignment Instructor Pilots in Combat Mission

In an effort to connect Air Education and Training Command First Assignment Instructor Pilots with Air Combat Command’s mission, FAIPs from flying training wings visited the 20th Fighter Wing, November 1-4. FAIPs from Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Columbus AFB, Mississippi, Shepherd AFB, Texas and Vance AFB, Oklahoma, received familiarization flights, aircrew flight equipment training, intelligence briefs, aircraft capabilities immersions, viewed operational readiness athletic training and were taught best practices and procedures from Shaw’s combat-ready fighter pilots as a part of ACC’s Task Force FAIP initiative.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Brandon Schoenfeldt, 77th Fighter Squadron pilot, right, and 1st Lt. Justin Blaich, 85th Flying Training Squadron T-6 first assignment instructor pilot (FAIP), participate in an F-16 Viper familiarization ride at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2021.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Brandon Schoenfeldt, 77th Fighter Squadron pilot, right, and 1st Lt. Justin Blaich, 85th Flying Training Squadron T-6 first assignment instructor pilot (FAIP), participate in an F-16 Viper familiarization ride at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2021.(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Ingold)

Before graduation from Undergraduate Pilot Training, students attend drop night where they are assigned their next aircraft. For some, it is staying in the AETC aviation enterprise, training and evaluating student pilots for a commitment of approximately four years. After the FAIP’s commitment ends, they are assigned an operational airframe and begin training. A FAIP may have years of flying experience, but they are new to the processes and procedures outside of AETC.

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U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Justin Blaich, 85th Flying Training Squadron T-6 first assignment instructor pilot (FAIP) performs pre-flight checks in an F-16 Viper at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2021.
U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Justin Blaich, 85th Flying Training Squadron T-6 first assignment instructor pilot (FAIP) performs pre-flight checks in an F-16 Viper at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody Sanders)

“We wanted to show future operational pilots what they can expect if they are assigned the F-16. This immersion gave them a look into the flying aspect of the mission and showed them what they can expect with the support structures available. I was a prior FAIP and there was not a program that allowed us to visit and spend time with current fighter pilots. These visits allow the FAIPs to really get immersed with the job and people they’re aspiring to work with. This allows them to make the most informed decision possible when it comes to time for them submit their assignment preferences,” said Capt. Daniel Rule, 77th Fighter Squadron flight commander.

A T-38 Talon sits on the flightline during a first assignment instructor pilot immersion (FAIP) at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2021.
A T-38 Talon sits on the flightline during a first assignment instructor pilot immersion (FAIP) at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody Sanders)

FAIPs also received capabilities briefings on the A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-15E Strike Eagle and T-38 Talon. The addition of the non-20th FW aircraft expanded the FAIP’s knowledge of platforms that will integrate together to meet mission needs while also helping them make an informed decision on their next aircraft choice ranking. The 20th Operations Group FAIP immersion aimed to smooth the process for aviators by giving them a head start on learning Air Force operations as well as potential airframes. Additionally, the program will help FAIPs advise students better.

U.S. Air Force pilots tour an A-10 Thunderbolt II at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2021.
U.S. Air Force pilots tour an A-10 Thunderbolt II at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2021.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody Sanders)
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