The 41st FTS paves the path for T-6 procedures

  • Published
  • By Jake D. Jacobsen
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

When it comes to the mission of Columbus Air Force Base where we Cultivate Airmen, Create pilots and Connect, the priority of the 41st Flying Training Squadron, also known as the Flying Buzzsaws, is to create pilots, but they also contribute by cultivating innovative leaders.

They connect through having a type of culture in the flight room where it’s easy to talk to the instructors and encourage students to help each other out.

At the 41st FTS, students are trained to successfully make it through the primary phase of pilot training. The instructors here task themselves with overseeing the successful completion of the syllabus to get them through T-6A Texan ll training.

The students go through a simulation phase and a simulation check ride, so by the time they get to the flight line, they know how to fly the jet and use the instruments, but they have no actual in-flight experience.

“We start small and use a building block approach,” said Capt. Orion Kellogg, 41st Flying Training Squadron T-6 instructor pilot and flight commander. “We don’t expect a lot from the beginning, but we want them to experience what it is like to fly the plane in real life and experience the nonstandard items that the simulation isn’t able to provide them like traffic radio calls, turbulence and the military operating areas.

Kellogg mentioned this phase is when they learn how a student learns best, so the IPs can cater to what works best for the new pilots.

Columbus AFB uses three different runways that handle the heavy air traffic of pilots in training. The inside runways are for the T-6s only, but they use the center runway for emergencies or if the weather was bad enough that they would need to land on a larger runway.

Capt. Michael Arakawa, 41st FTS instructor pilot, said that the squadron is now moving their operations to the center runway and with that comes challenges with flying a different pattern.

“Probably the biggest roadblock for operating out of the center runway is that it requires us now to cross T-38 Talon and T-1 Jayhawk to the outside runway in a timely manner,” Arakawa said. “We are trying to minimize the loss in training by creating a concept of operations that is simple and effective.”

The outside runway was closed approximately 4 months ago to get a fresh coat of concrete making the landings more congested with only two runways. That is where the recent efforts to produce a concept of operations for the T-6s flying requirements, while the inside runway is shut down has come into play.

“With this concept, we turned to working with all base and outside agencies including the Golden Triangle Regional (GTR) Airport to see how they could help us,” Kellogg said. “They are going to have the T-1 semi deploy out of the Golden Triangle, so that the T-6s can operate with less crowding.” Once the T-6s move in we would then need to figure out how we can operate on a different runway than we are used to.”

With the move to GTR Airport, the 41st FTS will have to manage different taxi procedures, different patterns procedures and adjust their pre and post-flight checklists to accommodate the new location. It is a very dynamic environment, because not only do the IPs have to learn new procedures, they have to teach the new procedures almost immediately.

From April 29 to May 3, the Flying Buzzsaws started simulating the shutdown. The week was a dry run to iron out all the deficiencies and get a final plan signed off. The goal is to take all the pieces that make up the flight line, see how it will be changed by the shutdown runway and devise a plan for the future that is easy to learn and repeatable.

The final plan is scheduled to begin May 24 and last through Nov. 1.