12th Flying Training Wing continues JBSA-Randolph’s educational legacy
By Robert Goetz, | Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs
/ Published October 19, 2015
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph’s reputation as one of the Air Force’s flying training hubs was rooted in the service’s Army past, more than 80 years ago, when Randolph Field was dedicated and became headquarters of the Army Air Corps Training Center.
For more than half of JBSA-Randolph’s existence, the 12th Flying Training Wing, which marked its 43rd year of service this year, has furthered the JBSA location’s commitment to educational excellence as the “Source of America’s Airpower.”
The 12th FTW will share that educational excellence and airpower with the community at the 2015 Joint Base San Antonio Air Show and Open House Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at JBSA-Randolph.
“We’ll reconnect the community with all the missions that we conduct at JBSA-Randolph, from training all the Air Force’s primary flight instructors in the T-1A, T-6A and T-38C to training fighter wingmen in the fundamentals of air combat in the T-38C and training all the Air Force’s remotely piloted aircraft pilots and sensor operators,” Col. Matthew Isler, 12th FTW commander, said. “We will share flying demonstrations and static displays that will connect our neighbors with each of those missions and the Airmen that execute and support them.”
Isler said the air show will provide a showcase for the 12th FTW’s Airmen, “including the instructors flying our JBSA-Randolph aircraft to open the show and our own Air Force Wings of Blue parachute demonstration team from the U.S. Air Force Academy,” as well as the world-famous Air Force Thunderbirds.
The 12th FTW, which is headquartered in the Taj Mahal, JBSA-Randolph’s most iconic landmark, comprises one operations group, two flying training groups and one maintenance directorate.
The wing graduates more than 1,200 instructor pilots and combat systems operators, undergraduate remotely piloted aircraft pilots and enlisted sensor operators each year. It also trains more than 2,500 U.S. Air Force Academy cadets and 2,200 undergraduate flight training candidates.
The wing is responsible for four single-source aviation pipelines: combat systems officer training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and pilot instructor training, remotely piloted aircraft pilot indoctrination and basic sensor operator qualification at JBSA-Randolph.
Pilot instructor training is a major component of the 12th FTW’s education mission.
The 12th Operations Group consists of five flying squadrons, including three flying training squadrons that provide pilot instructor training.
The 99th Flying Training Squadron, the Department of Defense’s sole provider for T-1A Talon pilot instructor training, prepares instructors for students in Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training who will pilot tanker, mobility and reconnaissance aircraft.
The 559th FTS uses the T-6A Texan II to train instructor pilots who will teach pilots basic flying skills, while the 560th FTS qualifies fighter and bomber pilots as instructor pilots in the T-38C Talon.
Lt. Col. Joel DeBoer, 560th FTS commander, said pilot instructors play an “incredibly important” role in the Air Force because they are “producing the next generation of Air Force pilots and officers.
“The next-generation Air Force pilot has to be able to take in an incredible amount of information and quickly make sound and correct decisions within seconds with little to no room for error,” he said. “The instructor’s role is critical in teaching skills like situational awareness, decision making and risk management in addition to all the basic pilot skills.”
The wing’s other flying squadrons are the 435th Fighter Training Squadron, which conducts Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals student training in the T-38C and trains IFF instructors for Air Education and Training Command at large, and the 558th Flying Training Squadron, which is responsible for the Air Force's only undergraduate remotely piloted aircraft training program.
DeBoer said all of the 12th FTW’s flying and fighter training squadrons are united by the desire to develop leaders and instructors.
“We are here because we love flying and love to instruct,” he said. “We find pleasure in spending hours briefing, flying and debriefing in order to see the student succeed and become a better pilot and better officer. We understand that the people we are teaching will have a significant impact of the next generation of Air Force pilots.”
The 12th FTW’s reach extends beyond JBSA-Randolph.
The 306th Flying Training Group, which comprises an operations support squadron and four flying training squadrons, is based at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. It manages and oversees academy airmanship programs and the Air Force Initial Flight Screening program.
The 479th Flying Training Group at NAS Pensacola, the Air Force’s only training pipeline for combat systems officers, consists of an operations support squadron and two flying training squadrons. CSOs perform duties as electronic warfare officers, weapon systems officers and panel navigators.
The 12th FTW traces its lineage to the 12th Bombardment Group in World War II. The 12th has also been activated as a fighter wing at Turner Air Force Base, Ga., and Bergstrom AFB, Texas; and a tactical fighter wing that served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.