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Academy Airmanship operations take flight under AETC

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- The U.S. Air Force Academy’s airmanship operations realigned under the Air Education and Training Command as the newly named 306th Flying Training Group on Oct. 1.

The operations are elective courses at the academy and are aimed at giving cadets firsthand knowledge and understanding of the flight environment.

“Airmanship operations allow them to develop an ‘airsense,’” said Alan Becker, the AETC plans and programs project officer and 1977 academy graduate.

Cadets can enroll in a soaring course, learn to fly a sailplane, or do free-fall parachuting to earn their basic military parachute jump wings. Cadets also have the chance to become instructors in various aviation and airmanship programs.

The realignment should be fairly transparent to the rest of the Air Force, Mr. Becker said. “It’s mostly paperwork and transfer of responsibilities.”

The assets, including AETC people already at the academy, will remain in place.

“What will change is a few more folks at AETC and 19th Air Force headquarters focusing their attention on the academy,” Mr. Becker said.

The realignment allows the academy to capitalize on AETC’s experiences.

“The change comes … to form a big brother partnership,” Mr. Becker said. “The academy has successfully run airmanship operations for more than 30 years. By realigning the management … under AETC’s flying training experts, the academy can now devote more time and focus on the leadership and training of cadets.”

“It just makes sense to align the (operations) under these functional experts,” said Lt. Col. Kyle Lampela, 34th Operations Support Squadron commander at the academy.

“We’re the trainers of the Air Force,” said Col. Bryon Mills, AETC plans and programs division chief. AETC people have extensive expertise in what works and what does not work in training, maintenance, aircraft acquisition and managing day-to-day operations.

AETC, however, will not be accomplishing this new initiative alone.

The operations at the academy will be AETC’s to fund and manage, but the airfield real estate remains at the academy, Colonel Mills said. Maintaining the facilities will be the academy’s job, but AETC people will be running them.

“The whole purpose of the airmanship program is leadership through flying,” Colonel Mills said. “So, we end up basically sharing a mission with the academy. Although the academy is providing us support to run the facilities, we are, in-turn, providing support back to them.”

The full transformation will not be immediate.

It may take up to two years, said Mr. Becker, before the transition is complete.

“There are (a lot) of little things to get right -- network connectivity, cadet management systems, syllabi. … We’re peeling back the layers of the onion,” he said. “We can’t do it too quickly or we’ll miss something very important.”

The 306th FTG’s organizational structure will mirror that of other geographically separated units, like the 479th FTG at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 306th FTG will report directly to Maj. Gen. Edward R. "Buster" Ellis, 19th Air Force commander. (Courtesy of AETC News Service)

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