What is P.I.T?
By Senior Airman Keith Holcomb, 14th Flying Training Wing
/ Published July 01, 2020
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Instructor pilots from every base across the U.S. learn from the most experienced instructors at Pilot Instructor Training (PIT) on Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas.
“PIT is important from a leadership standpoint because it allows me to lead with credibility in the mission,” said Col. Seth Graham, 14th Flying Training Wing commander. “I have received the same training and was held to the same standard as every other instructor pilot in the Wing. It also affords me the opportunity to truly take the pulse of our pilots and students. Spending a couple of hours briefing, flying and debriefing allows me to interact on a personal level that might not be possible otherwise.”
In PIT, these future instructor pilots are trained to teach precise maneuvers in the T-6 Texan II, T-1 Jayhawk, or T-38 Talon. Among these classes are first lieutenants who recently became first term instructor pilots or wing commanders with thousands of hours in the sky already.
“If any level of commander doesn’t go through PIT, they could be coming in with a different standard or view of the baseline for the SUPT program,” said Maj. Johnmichael Ayers, 41st Flying Training Squadron instructor pilot. “Sending everybody through PIT gets all on the same page and ensures they are setting the example at the squadron, group, and wing level.”
Learning to fly an aircraft is one thing, but the distinction between learning and learning to teach was made clear by 1st Lt. Sara Fishbein, 41st FTS instructor pilot. She stated the differences between the two are primarily in the mindset and communication.
“Instructing is a different skill-set,” said Fishbein. “Being able to fly the aircraft and monitor what the student is doing and then identify the root cause of what’s going on while also giving quality feedback, that’s a skill that takes some time.”
Even with 2,600 flying hours and 741 combat hours, the challenge of bringing in students and creating world-class aviators can’t be understood without PIT. Graham took command of Team BLAZE on 18 May 2020, and like every commander before him, immediately attended Pilot Instructor Training.
“The mental and physical demands of PIT surprised me,” Graham Said. “This was one of the most challenging experiences of my flying career. Seeing the high bar our pilots must meet to become instructors gives me great confidence our instructor pilots are among the best in the world!”