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20th Fighter Wing immerses FAIPs in combat mission

Photo of two pilots in an aircraft.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Brandon Schoenfeldt, 77th Fighter Squadron pilot, right, and 1st Lt. Justin Blaich, 85th Flying Training Squadron T-6 first assignment instructor pilot (FAIP), participate in an F-16 Viper familiarization ride at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2021. FAIPs from across Air Education and Training Command visited Shaw AFB to immerse themselves in the operational Air Force mission and culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Ingold)

Photo of Airmen looking at an aircraft.

U.S. Air Force pilots tour an A-10 Thunderbolt II at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2021. FAIPs also received capabilities briefings on the A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-15E Strike Eagle and T-38 Talon to give the pilots a look at operational options and served the give them the ability to make an informed decision on their next aircraft choice ranking. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody Sanders)

Photo of an aircraft.

A T-38 Talon sits on the flightline during a first assignment instructor pilot immersion (FAIP) at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2021. FAIPs received familiarization rides, aircrew flight equipment training, aircraft capabilities briefs, viewed operational readiness athletic training and were taught best practices and procedures from combat-ready fighter pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody Sanders)

Photo of an Airman in front of jet.

A U.S. Air Force Airman marshals an F-16 Viper during a first assignment instructor pilot familiarization flight at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2021. First assignment instructor pilots from Air Education and Training Command received familiarization rides, aircrew flight equipment training, aircraft capabilities briefs, viewed operational readiness athletic training and were taught best practices and procedures from combat-ready fighter pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody Sanders)

Photo of a pilot in a jet.

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Justin Blaich, 85th Flying Training Squadron T-6 first assignment instructor pilot (FAIP) performs pre-flight checks in an F-16 Viper at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Nov. 2, 2021. The 20th Operations Group provided FAIPs from across Air Education and Training Command with familiarization rides to show them the F-16 Viper capabilities and mission sets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody Sanders)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
In an effort to connect Air Education and Training Command First Assignment Instructor Pilots with Air Combat Command’s mission, FAIPs from flying training wings visited the 20th Fighter Wing, Nov. 1-4.

FAIPs from Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Columbus AFB, Mississippi, Shepherd AFB, Texas and Vance AFB, Oklahoma, received familiarization flights, aircrew flight equipment training, intelligence briefs, aircraft capabilities immersions, viewed operational readiness athletic training and were taught best practices and procedures from Shaw’s combat-ready fighter pilots as a part of ACC’s Task Force FAIP initiative.

Before graduation from Undergraduate Pilot Training, students attend drop night where they are assigned their next aircraft. For some, it is staying in the AETC aviation enterprise, training and evaluating student pilots for a commitment of approximately four years.

“We wanted to show future operational pilots what they can expect if they are assigned the F-16,” said Capt. Daniel Rule, 77th Fighter Squadron flight commander. “This immersion gave them a look into the flying aspect of the mission and showed them what they can expect with the support structures available.”

After the FAIP’s commitment ends, they are assigned an operational airframe and begin training. A FAIP may have years of flying experience, but they are new to the processes and procedures outside of AETC.

“I was a prior FAIP and there was not a program that allowed us to visit and spend time with current fighter pilots,” said Rule. “These visits allow the FAIPs to really get immersed with the job and people they’re aspiring to work with. This allows them to make the most informed decision possible when it comes to time for them submit their assignment preferences.”

The 20th Operations Group FAIP immersion aimed to smooth the process for aviators by giving them a head start on learning Air Force operations as well as potential airframes. Additionally, the program will help FAIPs advise students better.

“This trip has enabled us to be able to hit the ground running when we eventually go operational,” said 1st Lt. Justin Blaich, 85th Flying Training Squadron T-6 Texan II FAIP. “We can also bring the lessons learned here back to our students and get them ready for what’s next.”

FAIPs also received capabilities briefings on the A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-15E Strike Eagle and T-38 Talon. The addition of the non-20th FW aircraft expanded the FAIP’s knowledge of platforms that will integrate together to meet mission needs while also helping them make an informed decision on their next aircraft choice ranking.

“The Task Force FAIP initiative from ACC is a game changer for these younger FAIPs.” said Rule. “The exposure to combat allows them the ability to share their experiences with their students and inspire future generations of fighter pilots. I am glad to see ACC implementing this program and wish I had it been around when I was a FAIP.”