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Air Force ops chief speaks to graduating SUPT Class 21-07

Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, the deputy chief of staff for operations Headquarters U.S. Air Force speaks to the Air Force’s newest pilots during the graduation for Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 21-07 March 26 at Vance Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sarah Bailey)

Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, the deputy chief of staff for operations Headquarters U.S. Air Force speaks to the Air Force’s newest pilots during the graduation for Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 21-07 March 26 at Vance Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sarah Bailey)

Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, the deputy chief of staff for operations Headquarters U.S. Air Force speaks to the Air Force’s newest pilots during the graduation for Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 21-07 March 26 at Vance Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sarah Bailey)

Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, the deputy chief of staff for operations Headquarters U.S. Air Force speaks to the Air Force’s newest pilots during the graduation for Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 21-07 March 26 at Vance Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sarah Bailey)

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Deputy chief of staff for operations Lt. Gen. Joseph T. Guastella visited Team Vance Mar. 26 to speak to graduating Specialized Undergraduate Training Class 21-07.

“Never stop the quest to learn and be the best,” said Guastella to the members of Class 21-07. “Of all the badges on my uniform, there’s nothing I’m more proud of than my wings. They define me.”

In addition to inspiring the Air Force’s newest aviators, the general received an in-depth briefing on Undergraduate Pilot Training 2.5.

UPT 2.5 uses a blended training approach that augments the traditional pilot training syllabus with early access to training, virtual reality simulators and on-demand video instruction. The program’s intent is for students to utilize simulations to familiarize them with cockpit procedures and to virtually fly local training routes before they ever enter the cockpit of a T-6A Texan II, the initial flight trainer.

Vance is doing UPT 2.5 at scale, Guastella said. It’s not an experiment, and it will make a difference for the nation.

As part of his immersion into UPT 2.5, the general stepped behind the stick of a next generation Immersive Training Device, Team Vance’s most modern virtual reality flight simulator. Virtual reality simulators are a corner stone of UPT 2.5. 

“Why did we just start doing this? I think the innovation and results are just what America needs,” he said March 26. “That’s what UPT 2.5 is doing – we’re producing more pilots and making them better.”

The general eventually joined the Vance Spark Cell to learn about the newest innovations the 71st FTW is pioneering and even caught a group of student pilots launching a fellow student into the dunk tank following a successful solo flight.

Throwing a young pilot into the dunk tank upon completion of their first solo flight is an Air Force tradition dating back to World War II.

Guastella’s visit culminated in a roundtable with ops group instructor pilots to discuss Air Force operations and future military strategies.