14th FTW continues to advance force development during COVID-19 outbreak

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Davis Donaldson
  • 14th Flying Training Wing

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping the globe, the 14th Flying Training Wing’s mission of creating pilots remains essential and vital to the nation’s defense.

The 14th FTW at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, has continued creating pilots all while following the Department of Defense’s and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hygiene guidelines.

During a recent Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training graduation, in which 17 student pilots earned their silver wings, Col. Samantha Weeks, 14th FTW commander, explained why it is important for Columbus AFB Airmen to remain resilient and how their mission will proceed.

“Although the past weeks our world has changed significantly, we acknowledge how important our mission is and how everyone involved in that mission is necessary,” Weeks said. “While certain sectors of our nation stand down, now is the time we are obliged as military members to stand up in order to meet our nation’s call. We will continue to protect our force by minimizing our social interactions, but maximizing our mission in flight operations.”

During the pandemic, flying training has and will continue as scheduled with certain precautions in place to help flatten the curve. Squadrons will adhere to the new face covering guidelines, and anytime their duties require them to be within six feet of each other, a face covering will be required.

Other precautions include a reduced fly schedule/day, with personnel broken into C and B teams (tail flash CB) to maximize protecting the force and mission for the long term. Additionally student and instructor pilots only flying to military bases and adding additional squadron restrictions for crew activities.

During the graduation, Weeks explained why the aviators are significant for the defense of the nation, and gave reason to why the pilot training mission must continue.

“In about six to nine short months you will be defending our borders, projecting power or transporting vital personnel and equipment to the next fight,” Weeks said.

She went on to say how important it is for Airmen and their families to remain resilient and that “In light of the pandemic, we will be continuing to graduate the world’s most advanced generation of pilots.”

However, the push for a continuation in pilot training starts at the top. In March, Air Education and Training Command also released a formal memorandum authorizing travel for Airmen who are scheduled for flying training. Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of AETC, also said flying training will press on unabated during a recent video message posted on the command’s Facebook page.

"AETC executes the critical mission of training and preparing our servicemen and women to provide for the national defense and current worldwide military missions," Webb stated in the memorandum titled Mission Essential Determination — Basic Military Training and Technical Training. "Maintaining AETC's recruiting, training and education activities and pipeline is critical to the operational mission success of our commanders executing the National Security Strategy."