COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
On any standard sunny day, you can turn your ear to the Columbus sky and be treated to sounds reminiscent of the World War II-era as the T-6A Texan II flies over base housing interspersed with the growl of afterburners lighting off as T-38C Talon formations are propelled into the air.
If you listen closely on these days, you might also hear the melodious whistle of the mighty T-1 Jayhawk as it levels off at 700 feet before climbing and disappearing from sight and mind for the next 6.5 hours.
Yet, if you also listen on the days when the propellers and afterburners are quiet, the clouds are hanging low and you can only see half a mile down the road, you’ll hear that same beautiful whistle. That is the sound of instructor pilots and students training to maintain the greatest asymmetric advantage the U.S. holds over our enemies: Rapid Global Mobility.
The 48th Flying Training Squadron and our two sister squadrons at Vance and Laughlin repeat this process daily. Each year, we create two-thirds of the Air Force’s pilots. At the end of 105 training days, those that complete the program have wings affixed to their chest, we look them in the eye and tell them “Great job…but you’re not done!”
On graduation day, they will barely understand the terms “tanker bridge” or “infil/exfil” or “AMP 4 assault landing.” But as they arrive at their follow-on bases, they will become the descendants of Airmen who defeated the Soviet Union without firing a shot but instead executed an 11-month humanitarian resupply, we remember as the Berlin Airlift, by landing or taking off aircraft in the city every 30 seconds.
They will become the cousins of Airmen that performed a 20-ship airdrop of the U.S. Army into Northern Iraq during the opening night of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
But more importantly, they will become the future of our Air Force and be responsible for charting a course that keeps the scales always tipped in our favor.
Make no mistake, airpower is a team sport! However, as our adversaries develop fifth-generation fighters and radars that can detect stealth aircraft, it is America’s ability to project power across the globe at a moment’s notice that sets us apart. This is the portion of the Long Blue Line that our students are preparing to join and lead.