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Supporting ‘tip of the spear’

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

I have a unique history with Columbus Air Force Base and the 14th Flying Training Wing. I was born in Columbus when my father was stationed here as a First Assignment Instructor Pilot.

I guess you could say I’m a legacy FAIP. Even with this special history, I was initially a little bummed out about being a FAIP.

After pilot training I was excited to be on the “tip of the spear” and I wanted to fly something with afterburners and missiles. That started to change after listening to my father’s war stories. He was in Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 86-07 and stayed at Columbus AFB until 1990. Afterward, he flew the KC-10 in support of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. We both learned something important as a result, the necessity of a support role and what it means to be a FAIP.

As he flew around Europe and the Middle East, he couldn’t walk into a squadron’s base operations section without one of his former students walking up to reminisce. They often talked about one particular good or bad sortie they had flown with him or something he had taught them that “saved their butt” one day. He didn’t realize the impact instructor pilots have on the tip of the spear, and neither did I.

It would be impossible for the other major commands to take a brand new second lieutenant and put them in the right seat of a C-17 or a single seat fighter. At Columbus AFB, we fulfill an important role in supporting the war fighters. We may not be on the tip of the spear, but Columbus AFB strives to produce the best undergraduate pilots and seasoned Airmen in the Air Force – and we do because we take pride in the mission of Columbus AFB - Produce Pilots, Advance Airman, Feed the Fight.