HomeNewsArticle Display

Air Force Academy launches new Airmanship Next program

Airmanship Next

Cadet 1st Class Cade Cavanagh uses an immersive training device during a Pilot Training Next course this summer at the U.S. Air Force Academy airfield. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jennifer Spradlin)


The Air Force Academy redesigned its Airmanship program to give cadets more opportunities to experience the Air Force’s flying mission and produce the best pool of rated candidates.

Launched at the start of the fall semester, Airmanship Next augments live-flight at the airfield with virtual reality training to reach cadets who may have been excluded in the past by scheduling conflicts and infuses more aviation training into the four-year cadet developmental model.

“The reality is that less than half of the cadets from a typical class experience powered flight,” said Col. John Garver, academy operations and analysis, director. “We want to inspire cadets to go into rated careers by eliminating situations where cadets are interested in rated operations but have limited opportunities to try them out.”

The Academy has purchased 16 immersive training devices and will add 12 more by early 2020; the devices will be split between the cadet area and the airfield. The low cost per unit, ability to continue training when weather does not allow flying at the airfield, and 100% completion rate offered through the Cadet Aviation Lab creates a win-win situation for the Academy and its cadets. Everyone has the opportunity to experience Air Force operations via an immersive airmanship course, he said.

“[The program] will help us meet cadets where they are and tailor their experiences to get them where they need to go to make informed career choices, including whether to volunteer for rated positions,” Garver said.

Training on immersive training devices can be customized to benefit different learning styles and cadets can focus on getting multiple repetitions on key aviation skills. Confidence building in a low-threat environment helps boost the cadet’s confidence in their ability to succeed in aviation careers, he said.

“The amount of people who can go through this training and grow in their airmanship skills – I think it’s amazing, and I recommend it to all the cadets in my squadron,” said Cadet 2nd Class Daniel Shemon. Shemon volunteered to be one of the first cadets to go through the VR training. He is currently enrolled in powered flight and intends on pursuing a rated career as a pilot.

“Sometimes I come to the lab in the evenings to get in some extra practice on certain skills – approaches, pattern work, you name it – it really helps me develop my muscle memory,” Shemon said.

Initial feedback has shown a positive correlation between early participants in the VR training and live-flight performance in powered flight. Powered flight solo flights and overall completion rates are higher than they have been in previous years.

“The cadets are showing up a lot more prepared and knowledgeable about radio calls and traffic patterns,” said Capt. Bryan Rhoades, powered flight program flight commander and 2012 graduate. “It’s the difference between training a cadet who is a blank slate and a cadet who would appear to have a flight or two already under their belt.”

Cadets in powered flight typically complete 12 flights before solo and check ride flights. He said the ITDs allow him to maximize that training time to prepare cadets to be successful at flight training after graduation.

As the Academy works closely with Air Education and Training Command to produce qualified pilot candidates, the program is also pursuing an initial flight training equivalency option for top cadet performers from the class of 2021.

The goal of the Airmanship program is to provide an operations-based experience utilizing current and emerging assets centered on one of the Air Force’s three core mission domains – airpower – in order to develop leaders of character for today and tomorrow’s Air Force. The continued success of Airmanship Next is crucial to ensuring the Academy graduates and commissions the best-prepared rated candidates for the Air Force.


Facebook Twitter
Combat rescue helicopter pilots and crew undergo intensive underwater-egress training to prepare for worst-case sce… https://t.co/Z9z1kHAmay
RT @US_TRANSCOM: Look at this amazing photo of @usairforce and @RCAF_ARC C-130 Hercules aircraft taking off from #LittleRockAirForceBase. @…
Check out what's happening around the #AirForce this week! https://t.co/MCM1NiVAEN
Ice, Ice Baby ❄️❄️🌬️ Fire protection specialists at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska practice self-recover… https://t.co/tSSMzACZyz
Great job @CivilAirPatrol. 9 lives saved this year! https://t.co/43ICzmOMaX
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Privileged to spend time at our annual Weapons & Tactics Conference @NellisAFB where leaders of our combat power meet…
RT @AETCommand: Thanks @EsperDoD for visiting our 479th Flying Training Group team at @NASPCOLA! #DYK the group is the @usairforce's only…
RT @theF35JPO: Because we all love a bit of F-35 #slowmo. Watch an #F35 release flares in #slowmotion at @EdwardsAFB. ⚡ https://t.co/AIRCGL…
RT @US_SOCEUR: U.S. #airmen assigned to the 352d Special Operations Wing fly a CV-22B #Osprey aircraft over #Hungary. https://t.co/sSmjq90S…
RT @HQ_AFMC: It's another #NightAtTheMuseum event at the @AFmuseum this Friday when a special evening to celebrate the final days of the Ca…
RT @HQUSAFEPA: The U.S. & #Romania have a standing partnership to address issues of regional & global security. To advance those interests,…
Our Airmen train to perform even when conditions get harsh. @435AEW defenders used self-aid & buddy care, vehicle… https://t.co/ZXVzSUBzsK
Ohio @AirNatlGuard, @178thWing and @179AW sent Disaster Relief Beddown Sets to Puerto Rico to aid earthquake relief… https://t.co/qTGlDasRdY
RT @AFResearchLab: Our 711th Human Performance Wing is studying Airmen's sleeping habits to improve performance and readiness to further th…
.@NellisAFB Airmen help prep an @AusAirForce C-17 Globemaster III to receive fire suppressant needed to aid in the… https://t.co/fRiXN5lNh0
RT @USSOCOM: SOF Truth III: Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced. It takes years to train operational units to the level of pr…
Comptrollers from @TeamTyndall received the Gen. Larry O. Spencer Special Acts and Services Award for assisting mor… https://t.co/TIclfKmU2B
RT @F22DemoTeam: Everyone has a history. Some have a legacy. We are excited to introduce Maj. Joshua ‘Cabo’ Gunderson, commander and pilot…
A KC-135 and three F-16s from @EdwardsAFB conduct a flyover above @levisstadium during the #NFCChampionship. Fly… https://t.co/0K7GcYO1Ia