Welcome. My name is Hazard. I’m an f 35 fighter pilot for the Air Force. Today we’re going to be talking about pilot training. This is going to be a blend of my experience plus what you can expect.
It’s a 90% solution that’ll point you in the right direction. There are a few differences that have changed in the last ten years, and I’ll go over those at the end. So after I graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2009, I went to Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma. I spent about nine months there as a casual lieutenant. So that’s where you don’t have a job.
You’re technically waiting for pilot training to start. About six months in, I went to IFT. That’s initial flight training in Pueblo, Colorado. It’s about a six week course. You’re learning to fly on low performance prop planes, like a DA 20, and they’re just trying to see do you have what it takes to make it to the next level, and they’re trying to train you up there.
So spent six weeks there, soloed the DA 20, went back to Vance, and spent about three months waiting for my pilot training to start. So on day one, I can remember showing up, and there was our wing commander. So he’s in charge of the entire base. He gave us kind of a pep talk, and he, at the end, told us all to close your eyes and raise your hand if you want to be a fighter pilot. I raised my hand, and he told us to open our eyes, and all 30 people had their hand raised.
So that was my experience. I know there’s some other classes where people are initially wanting to fly heavies, like the tankers and the transport aircraft, but that was my experience. Everybody was initially gunning for a fighter spot. So pilot training starts. You learn how to fly on the t six Texan two.
It’s an 100 hp prop plane. It’s almost like a P 51 Mustang. And you’re initially learning how to fly it from point a to point b. After that, you are learning how to fly aerobatics with it. Then you move on to learn how to fly in instrument conditions.
So we call that IFR. Essentially, you’re in a cloud. How do you fly with just your instruments? And then lastly, you learn how to fly in formation with other t sixes. At the end of that, our class was split.
So we started with 30 people. Three people washed out, and 20 people went on to the t one. So the t one is almost like a business jet, and that’s the initial step to go fly those heavy aircraft like tankers and transport aircraft. And seven of us were selected to go fly the t 38. T 38 is a supersonic jet trainer.
It’s designed back in the 50s, really small wings, aerodynamic, small engine. And so the high speed handling is pretty good. The low speed handling is terrible, so it’s very difficult to land. Initially, everybody went from tweets or t sixes to the t 38. But over the years, so many people killed themselves trying to learn how to land the t 38 that now it’s just people who have the potential to go on the fighter track that go to the t 38.
So seven of us went to the t 38, and we did the same thing over again. We started off learning how to fly the jet. We then learned how to fly aerobatics. Then you actually go in the back seat, they have a curtain over the canopy, and you are learning how to fly the jet IFR in the back seat. From there, you go on to the formation phase, and at the end of it.
So it’s been about a year, we had four people selected to go on to fly fighters, and that was really high. At the time, we were averaging about one or two fighter slots per class. But our flight commander actually went to the next class, took some of their fighter spots because we had such a strong class. So afterwards, you go to IFF, introduction to fighter fundamentals, and you are learning how to tactically employ the t 38. So you’re learning how to use it in an air to air manner.
You’re learning how to do BFM, which is basic fighter maneuvers, essentially dog fighting. And then you’re also learning how to use it in an air ground manner. So dropping bombs as well, that’s about a six week course. And then at the end of that, you’re finally ready to learn how to fly. In my case, the f 16.
So I was going to talk about some of the changes that have happened up to this point. So not as many people wash out now. So at the time when I went through, we had about 20% of people washing out of ift, 20% of people washing out of t sixes, about 10% of people washing out of t people washing out of ifF. So there was a lot of people that weren’t there at the end who started now that’s since been reduced. They’re trying to train people up to the bar, as opposed to have too many people go through and wash them out.
Additionally, not quite as many people are going to the t 38. So back then, we had a lot of people who went to t then had follow ons to c, things like that and now they’re trying to get more people in the t one who don’t have the potential to fly a fighter. So it’s important to remember that the UPT pipeline is a living, breathing organization so it’s always trying to adjust itself to get better in accordance with the needs of the air force. So you might have heard that there’s a new program called Upt next where students completely skip t 38. So they go from t six s and then they’re using VR goggles to get spun up.
Then they come here to Luke Air force Base and their next flight is on a f 35. So there’s lots of new programs like that. This is a 90% solution. This will point you in the right direction. It’ll probably change by the time you get there.
I hope this video has helped. Good luck and I hope to fly with a few of.