New flying course exposes cadets to aircraft, airfield operations
By Amber Baillie, Academy Public Affairs
/ Published April 25, 2014
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Cadets are now getting hands-on flying experience, soaring 2,500 feet above ground level shortly after they arrive here.
This semester, Airmanship 250, Introduction to Soaring, replaced Airmanship 251, Basic Soaring, to provide fourth class cadets their first exposure to Air Force aviation.
During the course, cadets receive four flights in a TG-16A glider, one including basic aerobatic maneuvers such as a loop, Chandelle, Lazy Eight, and Cloverleaf.
"Our goal during these sorties is to provide cadets with a basic understanding of aircraft, airfield operations, and military airmanship," said Academy soaring instructor Capt. James Trimble, AM-250 program manager. "Along with that, we want cadets to experience the joy and freedom of flight."
Prior to the course, cadets had to schedule time during the summer or within limited time slots during the school year to participate in an airmanship program. By offering AM-250 here, AM-251 is now a summer-only program and the airmanship experience is available to cadets year-round.
"We've re-oriented the money we've been using," said John Tomjack, the Academy's Airmanship Program Manager. "The amount of money being used and number of sorties will remain the same. There will be fewer solo opportunities so that all fourth class cadets have the opportunity to fly."
Around 1,000 students will complete the program during the fall and spring semesters each year, Trimble said.
"Right now, we have 100 cadets in each session, which lasts four weeks and includes 10 lessons, he said. "We recently surveyed cadets in the course and over 98 percent of them rated AM-250 as outstanding or excellent."
The AM-250 program was designed to meet the vision of former Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, and is being carried forward by current Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson.
"He wanted a program that would expose cadets to aviation earlier in their cadet careers and motivate them to explore careers in aviation," Trimble said.
Through the Academy's airmanship programs, cadets receive basic and advanced instruction in gliders, pilot screening and parachuting. The 94th Flying Training Squadron flies more than 30,000 sorties a year, making it the largest and most active soaring operation in the U.S.
"Airmanship 250 is an outstanding opportunity for all cadets to gain a baseline understanding of Airmanship that will serve them well no matter what career field they choose," said Lt. Col. Jack Julson, commander of the 94th Flying Training Squadron, which supports soaring operations here. "It's also just plain awesome to go upside down in an airplane."