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Air Force Reserve celebrates 71 years

43rd Flying Training Squadron

43rd Flying Training Squadron

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The Air Force Reserve celebrates its 71st birthday April 14.

The historical origins of an air reserve in the U.S. military stem from the Preparedness Movement and the National Defense Act of 1916 that authorized an Organized Reserve Corps. The Air Force Reserve was formally established on April 14, 1948, by President Harry Truman, who sought to revitalize the reserve program.

Since Truman called for the formation of the Air Force Reserve, it has been a critical part of the nation's defense. Its mission is to provide combat ready forces to fly, fight and win.

Operating in various locations around the world, the Air Force Reserve has evolved from a "standby" force for emergencies into a major command of the Air Force.

Reservists in every branch are an important part of the Department of Defense’s strategy for manpower, global reach, and military flexibility.

The 43rd Flying Training Squadron is Columbus AFB’s Air Force Reserve unit providing active guard reserve and traditional reserve instructor pilots to aid in creating pilots here.

Originally activated at Langley Field, Virginia, in 1939, the 29th Bombardment Squadron (heavy) was redesignated the 43rd in March 1940. The squadron was equipped with B-18s, B-17s and eventually B-24s.

During World War II, the squadron participated in air reviews and antisubmarine patrols over the Atlantic Coast. In 1943, the unit was moved to Pratt Army Air Field, Kansas, and transitioned to flying the B-29.

On Feb. 25, 1945, the squadron flew its first combat missions over Japan against Tokyo and Okinawa. By the end of 1945, the B-29s and their crews had returned to the states. The 43rd became non-operational in February 1946, and was deactivated in May 1946.

When reactivated in July 1972, as a flying training squadron, the unit flew T-37s at Craig AFB, Alaska. The last class graduated in August 1977, just prior to the closing of Craig AFB. The 43rd FTS was once again activated in June of 1990 as a flying training unit at Columbus AFB, but was deactivated again in October 1992.

On April 1, 1997, the unit was activated at Columbus as the 43rd Flying Training Flight, organized to provide associate T-38 instructor pilots for the Air Education and Training Command Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training mission.

The 43rd FTS was reactivated as a squadron on June 5, 1998 to encompass the increased mission of providing associate instructor pilots in all the aircraft assigned to Columbus.

Since the reactivation in 1998, the 43rd FTS has expanded, providing 30 percent of the instructor pilot force for the 14th Flying Training Wing. The squadron's instructor pilot force instructs in the T-38C, T-6A and T-1 aircraft as well as the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals mission which flies the AT-38C.

The mission of 43rd FTS is to build the world’s best warriors, leaders and professional military pilots. They administer and execute the Air Education and Training Command/Air Force Reserve Center’s Associate Instructor Pilot Program and provides AGR and TR to augment the cadre of active-duty pilots conducting pilot training.

For 29 years, the 43rd FTS has been executing that mission to continue creating professional pilots.