HomeNewsArticle Display

Air Force promotes pilot diversity with ACE Flight Program

Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Stephen W. Wilson speaks with trainees from the Aviation Character Education Flight Program (ACE), Pentagon, Arlington, Va.,, August 1, 2018. The ACE program is a unique mentorship and motivational program for high school students and Air Force cadets.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Stephen W. Wilson speaks with trainees from the Aviation Character Education Flight Program (ACE), Pentagon, Arlington, Va.,, August 1, 2018. The ACE program is a unique mentorship and motivational program for high school students and Air Force cadets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

Students of the Aviation Character and Education Flight Program sit inside a life raft during their tour of Aircrew Flight Equipment July 19, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The life rafts are able to hold 25 people and are a mandatory item aboard mobility aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoe M. Wockenfuss)

Students of the Aviation Character and Education Flight Program sit inside a life raft during their tour of Aircrew Flight Equipment July 19, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The life rafts are able to hold 25 people and are a mandatory item aboard mobility aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zoe M. Wockenfuss)

DELAWARE STATE UNIVERSITY, Del. (AFNS) -- The inaugural class of the U.S. Air Force’s Aviation, Character and Education Flight Program recently graduated the three-week pilot training camp August 4.

The ACE Flight Program is one of the service’s new initiatives working to combat the growing pilot shortage affecting the Air Force. The joint effort between the Air Force and Delaware State University provided students initial flight training in civilian aircraft and a structured environment offering exposure to and education on military aviation careers. It was designed to motivate participants to pursue aviation careers, including the Air Force, through mentorship and tangible flight experiences.

During the three-week-long camp, students received nearly 5-10 hours of simulation instruction and 15 hours of flight instruction, culminating in a solo flight for most students. Each day the students trained on Air Education and Training Command’s Pilot Training Next, a virtual reality simulation technology initiative which began in February 2018. Students also received hands-on training in a PA-28 Piper facilitated by certified flight instructors of DSU’s aviation program. By the last week of camp, students were trained to complete their first solo flight, operating the aircraft from takeoff to landing on their own.

“This was probably the greatest experience I’ve ever had in my life,” said 18 year-old Amon Jackson from Chicago. “It’s not just the fact that all 24 of us got to fly every single day, but also the friends we made, the laughs we shared, the places we visited. Because of this program, I’ve solidified my passion for flying, and flying for the Air Force. To say I’ve been blessed is truly an understatement.”

After a student flies a plane by themselves, their confidence levels are boosted tremendously and it confirms they can achieve anything that they put their minds to, said Maj. Kenneth Thomas, Combat Systems Officer instructor and ACE Flight Program deputy director.

Students not only completed ground training and flying operations briefings, they also participated in character lessons led by active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves officer role models and mentors. These lessons gave the students the opportunity to visualize their goals and plan for the future. Students learned how their personality traits contribute to their decision making capability, prepared for college applications, set personal and professional goals and created life maps.

“The character lessons helped establish a baseline for the students,” said William Charlton, ACE Flight Program DSU liaison. “It was meant to help them better understand themselves in an effort for better interactions between other students, their leadership and later, when they are in leadership positions themselves.”

Exposure to role models that youth can identify with, while simultaneously presenting viable pathways to aviation careers, will not only increase the pilot pool for the Air Force and the nation, but also bring in new perspectives that sharpen our strategic capabilities. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, only 5.7 percent of Air Force pilots are women, 1.7 percent are African-American and two percent are Asian. The 24 students in the program came from a variety of backgrounds and ranged in ages from high school students to newly commissioned second lieutenants in the Air Force. Of the 24 students, 11 were African-American, four were Hispanic or Latino, two were Asian and eight were women.

“Not only did I have the opportunity to fly with them as an instructor, but as a young pilot myself, I was able to relate to them,” said Maurice Ellis, DSU certified flight instructor. “It was not too long ago when I was in their shoes, faced with the same choices and difficulties that they had to face. While flying with some of these pilots, many who had very little experience with flying, I knew immediately they all had tremendous potential.”

In addition to training on civilian aircraft, students were exposed to military operations and leaders during tours to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware; U.S. Air Force Headquarters at the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia; and a KC-135 Stratotanker incentive flight at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, where they witnessed the refueling of eight F-15E Strike Eagles. They also met the Secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson; Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Stephen Wilson; and several other Air Force general officers who answered questions and provided advice to students.

“Participating in the Air Force’s inaugural ACE Flight Program in Dover, Delaware, has been life changing,” said Notre Dame University AFROTC cadet Jill Ruane. “It was truly a blessing to have been given this opportunity. I am eternally grateful to DSU and all of the Air Force cadre for their tireless work to make this program a reality.”

Editor’s Note: Airman 1st Class Zoe M. Wockenfuss contributed to this article.

Engage

Twitter
RT @NASA: Docking confirmed! @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug officially docked to the @Space_Station at 10:16am ET: https://t.co/hCM4UvbwjR
Twitter
RT @NASA_TDRS: Dragon has docked! Crewed Dragon, with @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug on board, are connected to @Space_Station, with @NASA’s…
Twitter
Rise and shine! A KC-46 Pegasus at Altus AFB as the 97th Air Mobility Wing prepares to conduct a severe weather e… https://t.co/QBT5nuXMqx
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: An amazing story of resilience & grit sure to inspire you! Airman Shannon Busch triumphed over incredible odds to graduate…
Twitter
.@HQAirUniversity's Holm Center Chaplain's thoughts on distance. #ReadyAF #COVID19 #Resilient https://t.co/svDFNqIqNX
Twitter
U.S. Air Force Capt. Kristoffer Wiese, 480th Fighter Squadron pilot, holds his F-16 Fighting Falcon in position whi… https://t.co/Yb1RX4fUKn
Twitter
RT @1stAF: .@1stAF's #AFRCC assisted with the #rescue of an injured person from an ATV accident. #RescueAirmen from the #58thRQS and #66thR
Twitter
Multinational, multiservice joint integration training of Agile Combat Employment concepts between the USAF,… https://t.co/Jdi2BKcwlQ
Twitter
We’re back. 🇺🇸 #AimHigh https://t.co/FUVpIOM06K
Twitter
RT @NASAKennedy: After a successful launch at 3:22 p.m. ET, @SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft with @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug onboard is…
Twitter
RT @AF_SBIR_STTR: During a @T_W_Enterprise event, Salvo Technologies demonstrated how their technology could benefit the warfighter by deve…
Twitter
RT @NASA: LIVE NOW: #LaunchAmerica, Take 2. 🎬 Watch as @NASA_Astronauts fly to the @Space_Station from U.S. soil for the first time in nine…
Twitter
#SafetyFirst! @22ARW shows how to perform motorcycle safety. #ReadyAF https://t.co/VEEmq4CkVm
Twitter
Taking care of our Airmen! #ReadyAF #AimHigh https://t.co/6SrkNxXoUv
Twitter
RT @CitizenAirman: The June 2020 issue of Citizen Airman Magazine is online now! - https://t.co/wScm3DZIFq #ReserveReady #ReserveResilient
Twitter
Uniform changes scheduled to become mandatory for the Operational Camouflage Pattern and Two-Piece Flight Duty Unif… https://t.co/oYJ1VYY4KQ
Twitter
RT @1stAF: .@1stAF's aligned @CivilAirPatrol #MichiganWing transport #COVID19 test kits. #CAP, is the official #auxiliary of the @usairforc
Twitter
.@Whiteman_AFB maintenance group, the backbone of the B-2 Spirit, gets the mission done - no matter the time, or th… https://t.co/lUZqaz7XoE
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,229,016
Follow Us