20th Fighter Wing immerses FAIPs in combat mission
By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Ingold, 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 09, 2021
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.”