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The class in the clouds T-38 training prepares Pilots for NATO future

The 90th Flying Training Squadron plays an integral role in accomplishing the 80th Flying Training Wing's mission of producing the world's best pilots for the NATO alliance in the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program.

"We teach advanced jet pilot training for ENJJPT on the T-38," said Lt. Col. John Moran, 90th FTS commander. "We have instructor pilots from seven different countries flying with us right now, including the United States, Italy, Spain, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada."

Moran said his squadron teaches 51 ENJJPT students who fly about 120 sorties per day on the squadron's 46 T-38 aircraft. Students learn advanced maneuvers in the T-38, beginning in simulators, and continuing with an instructor seated behind the student in the actual aircraft. Students must learn the maneuvers and be able to perform them before being allowed to advance to the next set of skills.

"It's their first time flying a jet, so they have to think a lot faster and process more information," said Italian air force Lt. Col. Vincenzo Tozzi, 90th FTS director of operations and a 1995 graduate of the ENJJPT program. "The greatest thing about it is at the end of their training, we get to see them walk across the stage with wings on their chests."

Moran said much of the training occurs not in the actual flight, but in briefings before sorties and in debriefings afterward.

"They'll spend about an hour and 15 minutes before the sortie and then will get the most out of the flight in the debriefing afterward, learning about what they did during the flight and how to improve," Moran said.

The squadron also trains pilots on how to become an instructor in a three-month course, Moran said, including teaching ENJJPT-specific training information.

"It's a constant learning process," Moran said. "It's a different experience because you're in the back seat, instructing and evaluating the student."

Both Moran and Tozzi said getting to train with NATO member nations in a joint environment at the 80th FTW and in the squadron helps ensure smooth missions later, when pilots from the U.S., Italy and other nations are already familiar with each other and have the same basis upon which to work together.

"We have the same mindset on getting things done. When I flew missions in Bosnia and Kosovo, I flew with people I had trained with here, and everything was standardized," Tozzi said.

Along with spending 10 to 12 hours a day training, Moran said the squadron members participate in community service projects like the Project Thanksgiving food drive, where last year personnel collected 1,200 pounds of food. He said the squadron also was home to the most designated "professional performers" of any squadron in the 80th FTW's Air Education and Training Command Consolidated Unit Inspection in May.

Shekhar Gupta
Capt. Shekhar Gupta [ Pilot, DIAM, M.Ae.S.I., MAOPA [USA] ] 
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