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Operation Air Force: USAFA Cadets visit Royal AF Lakenheath, England

Ops Air Force

A 493rd Fighter Squadron pilot explains his normal routines with U.S. Air Force Academy cadet Christen Dahl prior to her familiarization flight at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, June 13. The Six U.S. Air Force Academy cadets were imbedded in the 48th Fighter Wing as part of “Operation Air Force,” as a way to get a feel of active duty life. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Malcolm Mayfield)


U.S. Air Force Academy cadets were given a glimpse into the inner workings of the 48th Fighter Wing during a two-week summer program at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, June 5.

The program “Operation Air Force,” embeds aspiring military leaders into the current operations of a military installation. The experience shows them just how important each aspect of an organization is to the mission of the base.

During the visit, six cadets were educated on the mission of the 48th Fighter Wing as they toured various units and an understanding of how they all fit together.

“It’s awesome to see all of the inner workings and what goes into operations to feed into this one mission,” U.S. Air Force Academy cadet Christen Dahl said.

The cadets were imbedded in multiple agencies on base including; the 48th Medical Group, the 48th Component Maintenance Squadron Propulsion Shop and the 493rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit.

The immersion gave each cadet an exclusive opportunity to get involved with the daily operations of the career field they’re presently pursuing.

“Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be a pilot,” Air Force cadet Michael DeFazio said. “My father was a Strike Eagle Weapon Systems Officer here, and I was born here. I grew up around this community and I’ve always wanted to be a part of it.”

Each cadet was later paired up with a pilot, and were provided a familiarization flight hosted by the 493rd Fighter Squadron.

“We’re happy they’re here and we love supporting this program,” a 493rd Fighter Squadron pilot said. “Coming from the academy and viewing the Ops life style puts everything into perspective; what you’re learning, why you’re learning it and where it really matters. So much is influenced just at the base level to get the final product out there.”

Sculpting future leaders is an integral part of the Air Force’s foundation. Operation Air Force serves as a fundamental cornerstone in that foundation as it continues to show cadets what is expected of them and what it truly means to be an officer in the U.S. military.