Graduating pilots, a new world awaits

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
Students from Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training class 21-12 walked across the stage July 9, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, officially earning the aeronautical rating of pilot.

To earn this title and their Air Force wings, each student flew nearly 200 hours during a 54-week period. Along with flying, students are tasked with completing 400 hours of flight-related classroom instruction and simulator training.

Attending the graduation ceremony was guest speaker Brigadier General Bobbi Doorenbos (Retired) who gave the new aviators words of wisdom to hold on to as they navigate their career in the Air Force.

“I am very optimistic for their future,” said Doorenbos. “I know we have such great talent in our pilot training classes and it is fun for me to reflect back to when I was in their shoes. They have incredible things on their horizon right now, it’s amazing to be a part of that.”

Doorenbos is a senior pilot with more than 1,200 hours in the F-16C Fighting Falcon. She served as Special Assistant to the Director, Air National Guard, acting as the Headquarters Air Force Military Deputy for Training and Readiness.

“The ability to adapt to the different things that happen to you in life will be a critical skill throughout the years,” said Doorenbos. “Your career path doesn’t always follow the path you think it will, so when you get knocked down you get back up.”

After receiving their diplomas and being congratulated for their hard work, the graduates and audience watched a video about what it means to be a pilot in the Air Force followed by an age old tradition called the breaking of the wings.

The tradition entails snapping their first set of pilot wings into two halves, never to be brought together again while the pilot is alive. One half is kept by the pilot, while the other is kept by the pilot’s loved one.

As the new pilots move onward in their careers, they will go to their respective bases and begin training on the aircraft assigned to them. Some selected officers will stay at Columbus AFB, entrusted with the position of First Assignment Instructor Pilot ensuring the continuation of training world class aviators.