VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Student pilots here hit yet another milestone April 2 as the first 17 Undergraduate Pilot Training 2.5 graduates crossed the stage and received their wings.
“You, as Class 21-06, took Air Education and Training Command’s vision and made it a reality,” said Col. Jay Johnson, the commander of 71st Flying Training Wing, students at the ceremony. “You are the future of the Air Force and have paved the way for every single student who follows in your footsteps.”
The changes to pilot training focus on student-centric instruction, and stem from leadership’s recognition that students learn differently than those even a decade ago.
“Digital courseware and online academics available on-command and on-demand are the norm for today’s graduates, instead of referring back to paper products and relying only on in-person instruction,” said Maj. Kinsley Jordan, Team Vance’s chief of innovation.
In a departure from the rigid traditional syllabus and training methods used for the last 50 years, students begin UPT 2.5 with early access to online academic content designed to familiarize them with the aircraft they’re going to fly first, the T-6A Texan II.
Virtual reality with interactive lessons, to include 360-degree virtual reality trainers, enable students to become familiar with local training routes and procedures via a simulator long before they reach the cockpit.
These immersive training devices allow students to maximize every second of the time they spend in the air and gives instructor pilots the ability to correct deviations immediately after landing. Students are then able to practice real-world shortfalls as many times as needed before completing their next in-air training sortie.
“Vance’s willingness to embrace modernization and think creatively made this day possible,” Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, the commander of 19th Air Force, said April 1. “By emphasizing innovation and flexibility as core values, they are shaping pilot training for the future, and I couldn’t be more proud of the first Vance UPT 2.5 graduates to cross the stage.”
Vance has been working on this type of training since 2018, when the base tested a prototype of UPT 2.5.
“UPT 2.5 is an evolving process,” said Johnson. “I’ve been lucky to be here for most of the evolution, and the way our Airmen have adapted has been nothing short of amazing.”
The demanding UPT 2.5 training program will result in a higher quality of pilots, who are able to adapt to inflight mission changes and therefore will be better prepared for the future fight, said Johnson.
Vance is the sole Air Force pilot training base to roll out UPT 2.5, with the last traditional syllabus class graduating this summer.