Secretary of the Air Force talks innovation across JBSA, Austin

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Stormy Archer
  • 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited AFWERX-Austin, Pilot Training Next and Joint Base San Antonio June 27-29 to see firsthand the focus Airmen in the area are placing on improving readiness, cost-effective modernization and developing exceptional leaders.

Her first stop was AFWERX-Austin, the Air Force’s newest public innovation and collaboration hub focused on bridging external communities and the Air Force to create mutually-beneficial partnerships.

“We recognize that the bureaucracy doesn’t always allow innovation to happen, and that’s one of the reasons for creating things like AFWERX,” Wilson said. “To take some of the innovative capacities of the people who work in high-tech companies who can help the Air Force connect with a community that has a university partner, where we’re very likely to find entrepreneurial talent and ideas, a supportive local government, a business and innovation culture, and try to connect and embed as part of a team.”

Wilson also toured the Pilot Training Next facility at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas.

Pilot Training Next is a program to explore and potentially prototype a training environment that integrates various technologies to produce pilots in an accelerated, cost efficient, learning-focused manner. The training uses immersive technology to see how Airmen can learn more effectively.

 “Technology has changed quite a bit, but the syllabus for pilot training had not significantly changed in about 20 years,” Wilson said. “The Air Force is partnering with industry and educators to build a training environment that integrates the today’s latest technology to improve pilot training.” 

The next stop for Wilson was a visit to Joint Base San Antonio.

At JBSA-Randolph, Wilson met with members of the 12th Flying Training Wing to discuss the pilot instructor training, introduction to fighter fundamentals, weapons systems officer training and remotely piloted aircraft pilot and basic sensor operator training missions.

While at JBSA-Lackland, Wilson had the opportunity to engage with new Airmen and their families, and also serve as the reviewing official during the Basic Military Training (BMT) graduation parade. There she welcomed 628 new Airmen into the Air Force.

“To our newest Airmen, every one of you comes here with a story,” Wilson said. “You bring with you your history and your family’s history to our nation’s defense, and you are now part of our story as Airmen in the greatest Air Force in the world.”