49th FTS Black Knights applaud new commander

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jake Jacobsen
  • 14th Flying Training Wing
The 49th Fighter Training Squadron held a change of command ceremony at the Walker Center where Lt. Col. Darin Elgersma relieved command to Lt. Col. Aaron Jones, Dec. 16, 2021, on Columbus Air Force Base, Miss.

The 49th Fighter Training Squadron mission is to create wingmen for the Combat Air Force by teaching procedures and techniques of fighter aircraft. They conduct Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals (IFF) training for over 75 U.S. Air Force and international pilots and Weapon System Officers annually.

In his time as the commander, Elgersma led the unit to produce more fighter wingmen than previously produced over the last 14 years. He led the squadron to 4,600 sorties and 4,200 hours culminating in the graduation of 94 pilots for the U.S. and 7 partner nations.

“What has impressed me the most was the environment that he set in his squadron here at Columbus,” said Col. Justin Spears, 14th Operations Group commander. “He is a caring leader with a huge heart and I can’t thank him enough for his leadership here at the 49th FTS.”

At the ceremony, Elgersma was awarded the meritorious service medal presented by Spears for his achievements as the commander.

“I can’t tell you the joy I have gotten to show up these last few years and work with the Black Knights,” said Elgersma. “The 49th is very precious to us, so my family and I are delighted to hand off the squadron to such capable hands.”

Now in the hands of Jones, the 49th FTS will move into the new year with his new ideals and expertise.

“I am genuinely excited and honored for this opportunity to lead such proud, proficient and professional Airmen,” said Jones. “Getting to know most of you over the last 5 months have been phenomenal and I am looking forward to the challenges and rewarding experiences of being your commander.”

The squadron was designated the 49th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron in 1952. It was activated to replace an Air National Guard squadron that was being released from active duty at Dow Air Force Base, Maine but was inactivated again in 1987 as the Air National Guard took over the air defense mission.

In 1990, the unit was designated the 49th Flying Training Squadron here in Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. Conducting the advanced phase of undergraduate pilot training. In 2003 its name was changed to the 49th Fighter Training Squadron to reflect its mission.