Airmen develop leadership skills through Flying Tiger University

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rachel Perkinson
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Maintenance Airmen at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, are getting a unique chance to develop important leadership skills while helping guide the creation of a new professional development initiative through Flying Tigers University.


Flying Tigers University is a home-grown course designed to give Airmen a way to build connectedness, communication and resilience by interacting with Air Force leaders.


“The Air Force asks us to do a lot, and they train us well, but sometimes they ask us to communicate at levels we’re not comfortable with, or in ways we may not have the skills to accomplish,” said Master Sgt. Derek Longshore, 23rd Maintenance Group Fabrication Flight superintendent and course developer. “We want to arm these folks with the skills to communicate at any level, to supplement the other development courses the Air Force offers.”


According to Longshore, the need for an in-house developmental program became apparent after feedback from the Air Force wide Resiliency Tactical Pause, an event focused on the well-being of Airmen.


“We realized development needed to be deliberate.” Longshore said. “We took that feedback and chose to take action.”


With the help of Longshore’s fellow maintenance senior noncommissioned officers, the team crafted a localized development course and chose to test the waters with their own 23rd MXG Airmen.


“We had to make it localized,” Longshore said. “We realized we were sending a lot of our people out of the squadron to get this training, whether it be to Airman Leadership School, the NCO Academy and the Senior NCO Academy. These are great programs, but we realized we could supplement those courses and help our Airmen from the inside out.”


Flying Tigers University consists of three training days at the end of every quarter. The training days include courses and seminars focused on emotional intelligence, critical and balanced thinking, diversity and inclusion, financial foundations and much more. 


Although the program is still expanding, many members of Moody’s senior leadership spoke to Airmen selected for the second ever course, including the 23rd Wing command chief who helped Airmen feel included in the conversation.


“In the beginning I didn’t know what to expect, but after taking the course I feel like I have a better grasp of the full Airman concept,” said Senior Airman Makayla Harrison, 23rd Maintenance Squadron fuels systems specialist. “You actually feel like you’re engaging and not just being lectured to. It’s good to listen to and learn from leaders about how they’ve managed life.”


Currently, Flying Tigers University is open to any Airman or NCO selected from the 23rd MXG. However, any military member of any rank can sit in and listen.


The program is still growing and adjusting based on feedback from the students. The course developers hope to one day expand the concept to other squadrons on base.


“When you think of Moody and the 23rd Wing, you’ll question why the Flying Tigers are so good at developing themselves,” Longshore said. “You’ll think that the development of growth, mentorship, and communication are caused by a certain element, and maybe that element will be the Flying Tigers University.”