Key spouse answers common questions asked by partners of new student pilots

  • Published
  • By Laura Wilson
  • 71st Student Squadron

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- When students begin undergraduate pilot training, their significant others are left with a lot of questions. Here are answers for some of the most common questions asked by student pilot spouses -- and future spouses.

What is there to do in Enid?

At first glance, Enid may seem like a small town with a slow pace. While those things may be true (in the best way), there is plenty here to keep you busy. The more involved you get in the Enid and Vance communities, the more your calendar will fill up with fun events and new adventures.

Within the Vance community, you will find a variety of activities and groups to get involved with.

Between the Vance Spouses’ Club, Squadron significant other groups and subgroups, and 71st Force Support Squadron planned activities, there is no shortage of friends and memories to be made.

To find out what’s going on in town follow Facebook pages like “Visit Enid” and “Enid Buzz,” which highlight the best places to visit and local events. What other town will you find a downtown dog party, haunted ghost tours, and an outdoor ice-skating rink next to the world’s tallest fresh cut Christmas tree?

The local entrepreneurs are constantly working to provide new experiences such as axe throwing and market shopping.

If you want to venture a little further Oklahoma City; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Wichita, Kansas; are all within a two-hour drive. You will also be surprised by the variety of landscapes you can see just in the northeastern part of Oklahoma.

Not too far away you can dig for crystals at the Great Salt Plains, hang out underground with bats at Alabaster Caverns, or ride dune buggies at the sand dunes of Little Sahara State Park.

Will I be able to find a job?

While there may not be as many opportunities to find your dream job as you would have in a larger city, there are plenty of places to work in Enid. People in common career fields such as health care and education tend to find jobs more easily. Specialized career fields can be more challenging. Many spouses have found remote working to be a positive solution to this problem.

Vance has the Air Force’s first Spouse Space, rooms set aside in the Community Chapel Activity Center, that serve as a working office, conference room and a large common area which can be reserved for meetings and gatherings, squadron spouse activities, as well as a place for spouses to meet and connect with each other throughout the duty day.

The Military and Family Readiness Center is a wonderful resource for job hunting. They can assist in resume writing, find education opportunities, and walk you through the process of getting a job on base.

What can I expect during major life events while my spouse/significant other is going through pilot training?

Pilot training is a very intense and often stressful year for both of you, so gauging how much extra stress you and your significant other are willing to take on during this time is important when planning major life events. Leave is hard to take and plan for with the exception of a few days around Christmas and New Year’s Day.

That being said, life doesn’t stop when pilot training starts and there are support systems in place to help as things come up. Flight Commanders and Key Spouses are available to help find resources and provide guidance. Reaching out for help and utilizing the many agencies available to you can help ease some of the stress that accompanies all the things life throws at you.

We already have kids. Will we have a place in the community?

Once arriving at Vance, you will undoubtedly find people in the same season of life as you. Most squadrons, including the Student Squadron have active playgroups so you can make friends while your kids do.

Enid has so many great things to offer families with children. At the top of my list is Leonardo’s Children’s Museum and Adventure Quest. They offer memberships so you can pop in whenever you have time to spare and they offer a military discount. We also have two wonderful libraries at our disposal, one on base and one located downtown.

Enid parks are well kept and the city puts on multiple family focused activities throughout the year. There are also many other activities including bowling alleys both on and off base, pools, mini golf courses, a roller-skating rink and a skate park.

Should I come with my spouse and how can I support them if I do?

While not always easy, pilot training will be a year filled with cherished memories and lots of personal growth for both of you. It is often a time for couples to practice good communication and build resiliency. Many spouses have attributed their successes during pilot training to building routines, communicating needs, and having things to keep busy while their significant other is working long days.

Laura is a Key Spouse for the 71st Student Squadron and is married to Maj. Wes Wilson who flies with the 3rd Flying Training Squadron at Vance Air Force Base.