Enlisted Aviator Course is First of its Kind

The 23rd Flying Training Squadron at Fort Rucker, Ala., conducted the first training flight of its new Career Enlisted Aviator Rotary Wing Fundamentals course, according to unit officials. The course—the first of its kind in the Air Force—will act as a “crash course in helicopter operations,” providing enlisted aircrew members with a foundation in flying before they get to their graduate-level training at Kirtland AFB, N.M., said TSgt. Seamus Feeley, CEARF student flight chief, in a release on May 10, three days after the inaugural flight. Before the course, enlisted aircrew members, including aerial gunners and flight engineers, would arrive at Kirtland without any prior flight experience. As such, failure rates for mission qualification training on helicopters and CV-22 tiltrotor platforms were “upwards of 50 percent,” according to the release. Squadron officials hope this course will change that. “CEARF will save lost time and money by reducing washouts and allow more individuals to successfully complete training and fill a critically undermanned career field,” said Feeley. The course takes 36 training days to complete. CEARF will train about 88 flight engineers each year, states the release. (Kirtland report by Jonathan Rejent)