News>Air Force flight screening program marks 100k sorties
Instructor pilot Andy Shirk and student pilot 2nd Lt. Andrew Breest, perform shutdown procedures after completing the 1st Flying Training Squadron's 100,000th sortie at Pueblo Memorial Airport in Pueblo, Colo., Feb. 10.
by John Van Winkle
Air Force Academy Public Affairs
2/13/2012 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The Gateway to Air Force aviation flew its 100,000th sortie Feb. 10.
That gateway is run by the 1st Flying Training Squadron at Pueblo Memorial Airport in Pueblo, Colo. The 1st FTS oversees Initial Flight Screening, for all of the Air Force's pilot, combat systems officers and remotely piloted aircraft candidates, It does this by working with Doss Aviation, which fulfills the $200 million, 10-year Air Force Initial Flight Screening contract.
The IFS program is the first step in the U.S. Air Force's undergraduate pilot training process. IFS provides ground and flight training to students in preparation for Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, Undergraduate Combat Systems Officer Training, and Remotely Piloted Aircraft initial screening and training. The two primary objectives are to provide the U.S. Air Force an opportunity to screen aviation candidates prior to Undergraduate Flying Training entrance and begin the development of the student's aviation skills.
"Flying 100,000 sorties is a significant milestone for any flying operation. When you consider that most of the students that begin training here have never flown an airplane before, it makes it even more significant to reach this milestone with a very strong safety record," said Lt. Col. James Claborn, the 1st FTS director of operations.
The instructor and student pilots for that 100,000th sortie were instructor pilot Andy Shirk and student pilot 2nd Lt. Andrew Breest.
"It was simply luck of the draw that I was on the 100,000th sortie," Breest said. The student pilot hails from Fayetteville, Georgia, and is a ROTC graduate from George Washington University. Rather than professing grand dreams of being the next F-35 or CV-22 pilot, his goals are a little more grounded.
"Right now, I'm focused on learning how to fly the DA-20 and then the T-6 after Initial Flight Screening. I'm taking one step at a time," he said, after finishing his sortie and pulling 0.8Gs.
The 1st FTS has a unique partnership with Doss Aviation to conduct initial flight screening for all Air Force pilots, CSOs and RPA candidates. Outside of the actual sorties, the entire 1st FTS and Doss Aviation facility is completely self-contained. Lodging, academics, dining, ground instruction, flight planning and administration are all under the same roof, with an adjacent facility set to maintain, with maintenance facilities and the parking for their DA-20s just a sneeze away.
"The students learn in a world-class facility and are taught by highly experienced instructors. Many of the instructor pilots are former military aviators with thousands of hours instructing in a variety of aircraft," Claborn said.
Students learn to fly in the Diamond DA20-C1 aircraft.
"The DA20 has a remarkable safety record and is an excellent platform to teach basic flying skills. Students who graduate from the 1st FTS are extremely prepared for their follow-on training, whether it be pilot, CSO or RPA," Claborn added.
The 1st Flying Training Squadron welcomed its 100th class to Introductory Flight Training on Feb. 8.