T-38 squadron changes commanders during four-ship formation over Oklahoma

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  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – The global pandemic has changed the world. Due to these unprecedented times, adapting and overcoming takes on new meaning.

On Friday, May 8, the 71st Flying Training Wing wrote a new chapter to its storied past by reimagining the traditional change of command ceremony and giving it wings.

In a first for the Air Force, members of the 25th Flying Training Squadron and Team Vance virtually attended an in-air change of command ceremony on May 8, when Lt. Col. Eric “Zen” Schmidt relinquished command to Lt. Col. Brooks “Ricky Bobby” Daniel at 3:25 p.m., somewhere over Oklahoma.

“You have no idea how bittersweet this is,” said Col. Robert Haas, 71st Operations Group commander, who officiated the ceremony in the lead aircraft of a four-ship T-38 Talon formation.

“Zen, nice work leading the Shooters through thick and thin,” said Haas over the aircraft radio. “You’ve taken on the culture of the squadron and moved the mission forward. I salute you. Congratulations on a tour well done.”

The change of command culminated once the aircraft landed, and the squadron guidon was officially relinquished by Schmidt, and presented to Daniel.

The 25th FTS provides student pilot training in the T-38 Talon, a twin-engine super-sonic two-seat aircraft that prepares graduates for their next assignment in fighter and bomber aircraft.

View a video of the event here.