The Future is Now

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Javier Cruz
  • 14th Flying Training Wing

A small crowd gathered where the grass becomes concrete, they listened to the sky searching for a very specific sound. It was the sound of the future and the future is now. 

The T-7A, the newest generation of aircraft trainer was spotted during a refueling stop at the 14th Flying Training Wing on December 15, 2023.  

The 14th Operations Group has already leaned forward in pilot training advancements in the form of changes to current curriculum such as Fighter/Bomber Fundamentals (F/BF) and Task Force 14, an innovation program that approaches pilot training holistically.   

Col. Alexander Heyman, 14th Operations Group commander, described his goal and vision that the new F/BF program will translate to the T-7A trainer and align with future fighter type aircraft to focus on a more advanced training program in an interview earlier this year.  

Maj. Jonathan Aronoff, Integrated Flight Test Director and USAF chief pilot for the T-7A, emphasized the important role of the T-7A Integrated Test Force that combines elements of Boeing and the joint USAF-industry teams as described in an article published by the 412th Test Wing, Edwards Air Force Base, CA on Nov. 9, 2023. He provided additional insight into working with the T-7A team.

“I’d say the overall feeling is a deep sense of pride in the trust the test team and entire enterprise has given me to fly and test a one-of-a-kind asset. I am very proud of our USAF engineers and industry partners who have gotten the program ready for the next phase of developmental test and feel very lucky to be the Integrated Flight Test Director and USAF chief pilot,” said Aronoff. “As a lifelong aviator, there is no hiding the excitement of taking the USAF’s newest advanced trainer to places and flight regimes it’s never been before.” 

The T-7A was on its way to Eglin Air Force Base, FL, to undergo climatic lab testing where it will be exposed to extreme climates as part of the developmental test campaign. Aronoff recalled his first flight experience with the T-7A. 

“It was exhilarating stepping to the jet for my first flight, but once you strap into the jet, it was all business. There were small moments when I had the chance to take a deep breath and think, “Wow! What an incredible opportunity.”, and once the jet was shut down, my smile was ear to ear in excitement,” said Aronoff. “Words fail to emphasize on how eager I am to continue to test this airplane for the warfighter.” 

The distinctive red tail of the T-7A is a reminder of the courage, sacrifice and honor of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Now it serves as a beacon to the next generation of Air Force aviators to strive for excellence.  

“The T-7A is an incredible leap forward compared to legacy trainers, but also brings an entire training system that can revolutionize how AETC (Air Education and Training Command) will train the next generation of combat aviators,” said Aronoff.