Achieving aeronautical rating of pilot; SUPT class 21-07 graduates

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Twenty officers have come out triumphant after a year of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training and achieved the aeronautical rating of pilot March 26, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.

The 54-week pilot training program begins with a six-week preflight phase of academics and physiological training to prepare students for flight. The second phase, primary training, is conducted in the single-engine, turboprop T-6A Texan II.

After primary training, students select, by order of merit, advanced training in the fighter-bomber track, flying the T-38C Talon or the airlift-tanker track, flying the T-1A Jayhawk.

Addressing the success of the students during the ceremony was guest speaker Col. Jeffrey Welborn, 14th Mission Support Group commander, where he congratulated them on their accomplishments and spoke about their future.

“During the course of your training you have learned to aviate, navigate and communicate as you conquered the basics of flying, but now you will continue to your follow on assignments,” Welborn said. “Much of your success will be derived on how well you learn and apply the skills necessary to operate your weapons system in environments that are increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.”

Welborn continued, speaking to the graduates about his personal experiences, keys to success, and leadership skills he learned along the way to becoming a commander.

“Be humble about the incredible journey you are about to embark on,” Welborn said. “You can be the absolute best at what you do but if you do not display the humility that comes with the job, all is for not. Remember that you are an officer first and whether you know it or not others are looking to you to be the example, so be that example.”

Columbus AFB also graduated three international pilots from Nigeria, Japan and Portugal. To recognize the partnership, the national anthem of each country was played in addition to the United States of America’s.

Distinguished graduates of Class 21-07 were recognized for their outstanding performance in academics, officership and flying abilities. The distinguished graduates were 1st Lt. Pedro Jesus and 2nd Lt. Michael Mehrhoff.

Jesus and Mehrhoff also received the Air Education and Training Command Commander’s Trophy for being the most outstanding students overall in their classes.

Towards the end of the ceremony, the graduating class followed a tradition known as the breaking of wings. The pilot tradition entails snapping their first set of wings into two, never to be brought together again while the pilot is alive. One half is kept by the pilot, while the other half is kept by the pilot’s loved one.

Now graduated, the new pilots will continue onward to their respective bases and begin training on their designated aircraft. Some selected officers will stay at Columbus AFB, entrusted with the position of First Assignment Instructor Pilot to continue the training of world-class aviators.