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37th FTS dawns new leadership

Audience members clap for Lt. Col. Valarie Ferrara, 37th Flying Training Squadron commander, at the 37th FTS change of command ceremony May 27, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The 37th FTS conducts primary flight training in the T-6A Texan II where students learn basic aircraft characteristics and control, takeoff and landing techniques, aerobatics, and night, instrument and formation flying. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

Audience members clap for Lt. Col. Valarie Ferrara, 37th Flying Training Squadron commander, at the 37th FTS change of command ceremony May 27, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The 37th FTS conducts primary flight training in the T-6A Texan II where students learn basic aircraft characteristics and control, takeoff and landing techniques, aerobatics, and night, instrument and formation flying. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

Airmen from the 37th Flying Training Squadron and audience members salute during the playing of the national anthem at the 37th FTS change of command ceremony May 27, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The 37th FTS conducts primary flight training in the T-6A Texan II where students learn basic aircraft characteristics and control, takeoff and landing techniques, aerobatics, and night, instrument and formation flying. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

Airmen from the 37th Flying Training Squadron and audience members salute during the playing of the national anthem at the 37th FTS change of command ceremony May 27, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The 37th FTS conducts primary flight training in the T-6A Texan II where students learn basic aircraft characteristics and control, takeoff and landing techniques, aerobatics, and night, instrument and formation flying. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

A formation comprised of Airmen from the 37th Flying Training Squadron salute Lt. Col. Aaron Tillman, outgoing 37th FTS commander during a change of command ceremony May 27, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The T-6A Texan II is a single-engine, two-seat primary trainer designed to train Joint Primary Pilot Training, or JPPT, students in basic flying skills common to U.S. Air Force and Navy pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

A formation comprised of Airmen from the 37th Flying Training Squadron salute Lt. Col. Aaron Tillman, outgoing 37th FTS commander during a change of command ceremony May 27, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. The T-6A Texan II is a single-engine, two-seat primary trainer designed to train Joint Primary Pilot Training, or JPPT, students in basic flying skills common to U.S. Air Force and Navy pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Lt. Col. Aaron P. Tillman turned over command to Lt. Col. Valarie Ferrara, the new incoming 37th Flying Training Squadron commander, during a change of command ceremony May 27, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.

Ferrara is a combat pilot with 3,800 total hours in the sky, flown 367 combat sorties, has 15 Air Medals, and an experienced T-6A Texan II instructor. She has previously served as the director of operations at the 41st FTS here at Columbus AFB.

“There is no profession, position or title that I would rather have than to be your commander,” said Ferrara. “Thank you for choosing this patriotic duty, together we will help hundreds of officers and aviators achieve their dreams. The impact of our efforts will last for decades.”

The 37th FTS conducts the primary phase of training in the T-6A Texan II. Seated with an instructor, each student receives about 81 hours of training in this aircraft. Students learn basic aircraft characteristics and control, takeoff and landing techniques, aerobatics, and night, instrument and formation flying in all types of weather.

While in command of the 37th FTS, Tillman led it to the creation of over 400 USAF pilots during a global pandemic and a syllabus overhaul.

“Thank you for your confidence in me and bestowing upon me the privilege of being your commander,” said Tillman. “I never dreamed I would get this opportunity, to be surrounded by and supported by so many great people over the last few years. I have a lot of people to thank today.”