COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Air Force studies have been under some scrutiny recently for using enlisted Airmen to gather data, mainly data related to pilots, and junior enlisted member’s ability to learn how to fly.
These junior enlisted are looking to join the commissioned pilots careers, nor is the Air Force looking to create any enlisted pilot career because of these studies.
Junior enlisted Airmen usually don’t have a four-year college degree in comparison of second or first lieutenants, this offers a new set of data that researchers are now acknowledging.
Many of these junior enlisted Airmen can be beneficial to the Air Force during today’s pilot shortage, allowing these studies to find new ways to fix the shortages gap.
A team of student researchers from Air Command and Staff College, Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, conducted an Adaptive Flight Training Study from Jan. 9-12, here, to aid in the Air Force’s advancement in training and education through virtual reality. Some of the participants in this study included enlisted Airmen.
I was one of eight enlisted Airmen who participated in the study, which will hopefully provide essential data in studies for traditionally officer held Air Force specialty codes because they provide an insight into the next generation of officers.
I feel my generation tends to have different perspectives than our older counterparts on many subjects and can provide researchers with data that they may not otherwise be able to receive.
There were three total test groups tasked to fly a T-6 Texan II simulator with no prior T-6 flying experience. The groups ranged from experienced pilots who had not yet flown the T-6; pilots who have limited flying experience and none within the T-6; and the final group had no flying experience whatsoever.
The eight enlisted Airmen were chosen specifically for their absence of flying experience but greater experience on virtual reality and electronics.
Not only does this mean that using enlisted members for studies such as this are helpful, it’s almost essential because pilots are typically selected when they are 18-24 years old.
Our data could be used to get pilots into and through pilot training faster, more efficiently; thereby closing the pilot shortage gap.
This virtual reality study showed the variety of other uses technology has. Recruiting can be enhanced by giving individuals interested in certain jobs, especially piloting, a firsthand look at what it really takes, and can help decide if that’s the career path they truly are interested in.
Training can be done through this technology to give the younger generations a more tactile approach to learning without risking monetary damages on government equipment and more importantly won’t risk the lives of those training in high risk career fields.
Lastly, I think this study, although it was not the primary purpose of the study, will demonstrate that there is a minimal gap between the graduates selected for pilot training and the screened enlisted Airman’s ability to learn, allowing for undermanned officer jobs to be completed by the most upstanding Airmen who have proven their ability alongside their commissioned counterparts.