Col. Tom McElhinney is Commander, 14th Operations Group, Columbus Air Force Base (AFB), Miss. The group conducts Pilot Training and Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals for more than 400 U.S. Air Force and international officers each year, using a fleet of 233 T-6A, T-38C and T-1A aircraft and 27 flight simulators at Columbus AFB. In addition, the group directs the tactical training for Afghan pilots and maintenance members utilizing the A-29 Super Tucano at Moody AFB, Ga. The 14th Operations Group also oversees an air traffic control complex with over 300,000 aircraft movements annually. His command includes eight squadrons with over 1,300 officers, civilians, enlisted and contract personnel.

Col. McElhinney was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up in Covington, Ky. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1996 through the United States Air Force Academy with a degree in Management and went to Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training in T-34s at NAS Whiting Field, Fla., where he was a distinguished graduate. He completed pilot training in T-38s at Vance AFB, Okla. Col. McElhinney went on to serve as an F-16 Flight Lead, Mission Commander and Instructor Pilot at Shaw AFB, S.C. and Kunsan Air Base (AB), Republic of Korea (ROK), where he served as the Chief of Combat Employment and the Wing Electronic Combat Pilot. He has over 30 combat hours in support of Operation Southern Watch and accomplished alert missions in support of Operation Noble Eagle. Prior to his current position, he was commander of the 43rd Flying Training Squadron, Columbus AFB, Miss.

Col. McElhinney transitioned to the T-38 in 2003, where he instructed at Columbus AFB, Miss. for the 50th Flying Training Squadron. In that capacity, he served as a squadron training officer, flight examiner, student flight commander and check flight commander. He was the 14th Flying Training Wing Instructor of the Year in 2004. In 2006 he converted to the reserves and continued to teach T-38s as both a traditional reservist and Active Guard Reserve. He served in multiple capacities including Chief of Squadron Scheduling, T-38 Reserve Flight Commander, Assistant Director of Operations, Director of Operations, and concluded as Squadron Commander for the 43rd Flying Training Squadron at Columbus AFB, Miss. In his civilian capacity, Col. McElhinney began flying for a major airline in 2006 and has flown the B737, B757, and B767 as a first officer, accumulating over 3,200 flight hours in those aircraft. Col. McElhinney is a command pilot with more than 6,600 total flight hours.

1996 Bachelor of Science, Management, United States Air Force Academy, Colo.
1998 Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, NAS Whiting Field, FL/Vance AFB, Okla.
2001 Distinguished Graduate, Squadron Officer School, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2009 Air Command and Staff College, by correspondence
2017 Air War College, by correspondence
2019 Master’s Degree, Military Operational Art and Science, Air University, Ala.

1. May 1996 – August 1997, Student, Joint Primary Flight Training, NAS Whiting Field, Fla.
2. August 1997 – May 1998, Student, Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, Vance AFB, Okla.
3. May 1998 – April 1999, Student, Basic Operational Training Course F-16C/D, Luke AFB, Ariz.
4. April 1999 – December 2001, Asst Chief of Stan/Eval, Asst Chief of Programming, F-16 Instructor Pilot, 77th Fighter
Squadron, Shaw AFB, S.C.
5. December 2001 – February 2003, 8th FW Electronic Combat Pilot, Chief of Combat Employment, 8th Operations
Support Squadron, Kunsan AB, ROK
6. February 2003 – April 2006, T-38 Instructor Pilot, Chief of Training, Student Flight Commander, T-38 Flight Examiner,
Check Flight Commander, 50th Flying Training Squadron, Columbus AFB, Miss.
7. April 2006 – August 2008, Traditional Reservist, T-38 Instructor Pilot, 43rd Flying Training Squadron, Columbus AFB,
8. August 2008 – August 2012, Active Guard Reserve, T-38 Instructor Pilot, T-38 Section Chief, T-38 Operations Officer,
T-38C Flight Examiner, T-38 Reserve Flight Commander, 43rd Flying Training Squadron, Columbus AFB, Miss.
9. August 2012 – October 2015, Traditional Reservist, T-38 Instructor Pilot, 43rd Flying Training Squadron, Columbus
AFB, Miss.
10. October 2015 – April 2016, Assistant Squadron Operations Officer, T-38 Instructor Pilot, 43rd Flying Training
Squadron, Columbus AFB, Miss.
11. April 2016 – April 2018, Director of Operations, 43rd Flying Training Squadron, Columbus AFB, Miss.
12. April 2018 – December 2019, Commander, 43rd Flying Training Squadron, Columbus AFB, Miss.
13. January 2020–present, Commander, 14th Operations Group, Columbus AFB, Miss.

Rating: command pilot
Flight hours: more than 6,600
Aircraft flown: T-34, T-38A/B/C, F-16C/D, B737, B757, B767

Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Air Force Achievement Medal
Aerial Achievement Medal

Second Lieutenant May 29, 1996
First Lieutenant May 29, 1998
Captain May 29, 2000
Major Apr. 1, 2006
Lieutenant Colonel Apr. 1, 2013

(Current as of January 2020)