Moody's student pilots prepare for 479th FTG's final flight

  • Published
  • By Alana Wall
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
As the 479th Flying Training Group ends its historic legacy at Moody, the last class of freshman pilots begins its new journey of flying for the Air Force. 

Class 07-15 began undergraduate pilot training Sept. 14 and is the final group of students scheduled to complete T-6 training at Moody on April 3, 2007. 

"We know we're the last class and it's definitely a factor, but we're not constantly focusing on it," said 2nd Lt. Krissi Gage, 479th Operations Support Squadron student pilot. "However, it is enough motivation to do well and support one another so we may finish together." 

Although the students are a part of the last class to graduate before the 479th FTG is absorbed into the other training wings within Air Education and Training Command, they are no different from previous students because they all share the same goal to graduate, said Maj. Scott Morris, 479th OSS, assistant director of operations for T-6 training. 

With the last class being observed by many on the base, students are compelled to do their best, said 2nd Lt. Khery Thompson, 479th OSS student pilot. 

"I like the fact that I'm in the last class, because it drives me to work harder," said Lieutenant Thompson. "It pushes me to not be the last guy to wash out." 

This drive for completion requires students to accomplish three phases which take approximately 13 months to finish. These phases consist of academics, ground training, aircraft sorties and simulator sorties. 

Along with all the training comes the pressure of living up to the precedent the classes before them set, said 2nd Lt. John Hoefing, 479th OSS student pilot. 

"The classes that have come through here have a legacy of successful of pass rates once they are on track," said Lieutenant Hoefing. "And I think we have to live up to that." 

As the upcoming transition takes place, the instructors and the local community are also affected in the move of the 479th FTG. 

The airspace around Moody allows for many hours of training and practice in the aircraft, said Major Morris. In fiscal 2006, more than 31,000 sorties were flown by the T-6 and the AT-38. 

"It's a tragedy to see this division of training leave Moody because we're the best at what we do," he said. "We have outstanding support from the local community and the 23rd Wing, and we have great air space where we're not intruded on by other aircraft." 

Although Moody's first mission was pilot training when the base opened in the early forties, the 479th FTG first began teaching students how to fly the T-6/A Texan II in April 2001. 

Many of the more than 200 instructors pilots at the 479th FTG are trying to make the most of their final days together, said the major. 

"Our instructors will be spread out to the other three bases," he said. "Since we are the best, when you take good things and spread them out to other areas, it's only going to make them all that much better." 

However, not all of the instructors will continue to teach. Approximately half of those who have served the majority of their three-year tour will return to their primary aircraft, said Major Morris. 

Many other instructors who are first-assignment instructor pilots will move forward into advanced programs and then to their follow-on operational aircraft. 

Class 07-15's training culminates at track select where each student will find out which of the four tracks their training will continue upon. Students are rank ordered based on academic and flying performance. 

They then select a track in line with their personal preferences. The four tracks include: helicopters, fighter/bomber, tanker/transport and turbo-prop aircraft (C-130s). 

Although the group will see many changes in the future, the last class continues to work hard, diligently study and prepare for the days ahead, said Major Morris. 

"I think everyone ought to clear their calendars for April 3, 2007, because it will be a great track select," he said. "It's always a joy when our students graduate and move on, however at the same time, for the instructors, it will be bittersweet that we are done."