The first four Air Force pilots picked to fly the F-22 without previous fighter experience took a big step forward in their training Nov. 1 by graduating from the first F-22 basic course at Tyndall AFB, Fla. These pilots began their training odyssey in January when they entered a five-week Raptor lead-in course at Luke AFB, Ariz. Thereafter, these four airmen moved to Tyndall to start the eight-month B-course, which included 88.5 hours of simulator training, 62.4 hours of flight training, and 27 academic tests. “The most difficult part of the training was learning to make higher-level mission decisions that are typically, in other fighters, made only by experienced flight leads,” said 1st Lt. Austin Skelley of Casa Grande, Ariz., one of the four pilot trainees. The other three are: Capt. Marcus McGinn of Schroon Lake, N.Y., 1st Lt. Dan Dickenson of Sumter, S.C., and 1st Lt. Ryan Shelhorse of Seattle, Wash. Notably, unlike training in other fighters, these four pilots took their first rides in the F-22 without an instructor in the cockpit behind them, but rather at their sides in another Raptor since there are no two-seat versions of the F-22. The four airmen will now complete their mission qualification testing at F-22 squadrons throughout the combat air forces to be deemed combat ready. (Tyndall report by SSgt. Vesta M. Anderson)
Changes are coming this year for Airmen taking professional military education (PME) distance learning courses. Closer interactions with facilitators, a revised capstone course, and more feedback on test performance are meant to improve the overall experience for distance learning students, who often include members of the Air National Guard.