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43rd FTS finds their new home

Col. Samantha Weeks, 14th Flying Training Wing commander, and Elaine Hobson, former 43rd Flying Training Squadron secretary, cuts the ribbon at the dedication ceremony Sept. 28, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The 43rd FTS is one of several units at Columbus AFB that aids in creating pilots.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Hannah Bean)

Col. Samantha Weeks, 14th Flying Training Wing commander, and Elaine Hobson, former 43rd Flying Training Squadron secretary, cuts the ribbon at the dedication ceremony Sept. 28, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. The 43rd FTS is one of several units at Columbus AFB that aids in creating pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Hannah Bean)

Lt. Col. Tom McElhinney, 43rd Flying Training Squadron commander, and Elaine Hobson, former 43rd Flying Training Squadron secretary welcomes attendees during the dedication ceremony for the squadron’s new building Sept. 28, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Hobson recently retired after 17 years of civil service.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Hannah Bean)

Lt. Col. Tom McElhinney, 43rd Flying Training Squadron commander, and Elaine Hobson, former 43rd Flying Training Squadron secretary welcomes attendees during the dedication ceremony for the squadron’s new building Sept. 28, 2018, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Hobson recently retired after 17 years of civil service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Hannah Bean)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 43rd Flying Training Squadron finally found a home of their own and held a dedication ceremony with fellow Team BLAZE and squadron members Sept. 28 on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.

The 43rd FTS is an Air Force Reserve unit providing Active Guard Reserve (AGR) and Traditional Reserve (TR) instructor pilots to aid in creating pilots.

Lt. Col. Tom McElhinney, 43rd FTS commander, welcomed everyone who attended the ceremony, and stressed the importance of the occasion. The 43rd FTS has shared space with multiple units in the past and never had a place of their own. However, with the 14th Security Forces Squadron recently vacating their old space and moving to a new one, this left the building unoccupied, and the perfect fit for the 43rd FTS.

“This is a project that our squadron has worked on for probably about eight years,” McElhinney said. “We were looking for a building that the active-duty wasn’t using anymore.”

The 43rd FTS command section resided in the 14th Operations Group building as a part of the five flying training squadrons on Columbus AFB. Members of the 43rd FTS utilized the areas in the 14th OG and flying training squadrons for their meetings and paperwork.

“We didn’t have a space that we could call our own, where we could put our own heritage stuff in,” McElhinney said. “A space where our reservists, many of whom commute in to work that have to work a minimum of six nights a month and are away from their family, don’t have a space to go away from the flying squadron and lodging.”

Through the newly acquired building, the 43 FTS plans on centralizing all functions

“When reservists come on and off duty, this will be the place that they start and stop their work versus going to the individual squadrons that they’re assigned to now and bringing up paperwork and admin stuff,” said Senior Master Sgt. Damien McCleskey, 43rd FTS superintendent. “It just centralizes all functions. We’ll have our own conference rooms, meeting rooms and our own unit.”

McCleskey also said, that although his team is a small part of the wing, they conduct a lot of the flying and leave a huge footprint.

“The IP’s we have are experienced. A lot of our IP’s are in the Reserves because they want to be,” McCleskey said. “This where they want to be stationed, this is the job they wanted. They get to focus their efforts on being an IP.”