A changing Air Force means flying assignment flexibility

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Chandra Bartel
  • 25th Flying Training Squadron
In the weeks preceding the Assignment Night for class 09-10, students across all four undergraduate pilot training bases were made aware of the changing distribution of assignments to students. There were briefings and a letter written by General Lorenz that discussed this new trend.

Both the T-1 and T-38 sides of Class 09-10 were informed that the T-38 track would be qualified for both fighter and heavy assignments. As a result of this, my flight mates and I in T-38s were told we could put any aircraft in the Air Force inventory on our dream sheets.

My class and I arrived May 21 at the Vance Collocated Club for Assignment Night eager to receive our assignments and discover where the Air Force was going to send us. I was the first T-38 student to be called up, and I stood in front of my fellow students, instructors, and friends without being mentally prepared for what was about to happen. 

My assignment flashed up on the screen; it was a C-17 to Travis AFB, California. My initial reaction was one of shock, and the subsequent emotion witnessed by those in the club was a display of un-officer like behavior.

My actions led those in the audience to believe I was unwilling to be a part of the heavy community. I realize that to the instructors and visitors who have flown heavies, my actions portrayed that their service as pilots had less meaning than those flying aircraft in the fighter track. While this was unfortunately the message I sent, it was not the one I meant, nor want people to remember.

Every person in the Air Force plays a part in the mission, and airlift pilots play a very vital role, especially in today's Air Force. When the initial shock passed, I took the time to learn about the Air Mobility Command mission and community, and want to be the first to say that the C-17 to Travis is an incredible assignment and it is a mission which I am very excited to undertake.

UPT assignments are changing with the needs of the Air Force. Of the six T-38 students who received assignments, three received heavy aircraft. We, as Air Force officers and professional aviators, need to be prepared to accept any assignment the Air Force needs us to take.

After this incident, I am fully aware that it is the wings we should all be proud to receive; not the aircraft or the location. I hope that the classes waiting for assignments can learn from my mistakes, look for the positive in every possible assignment, and be proud that the Air Force is asking them to take part in the mission of being the greatest airpower in the world.