The 71st Flying Training Wing (FTW) at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, flew away with the top flying training wing honors for 2018 during the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) Flying Training Awards ceremony on Oct. 26.
The second annual event, hosted by the 19th U.S. Air Force, the numbered Air Force (AF) responsible for flying training, recognized the dedicated efforts of the exceptional individuals and teams across AETC who continue to produce highly qualified aircrew for the Air Force over the last fiscal year.
“Tonight simply reinforced what we already knew—that we have the world’s greatest aircrew and instructors out in the field, training and educating the world's finest combat ready Airmen to deliver Airpower,” said Maj. Gen. Patrick Doherty, 19th AF commander. “Every single Airmen in the flying training enterprise understands that teamwork, production and innovation are the key to solving the Air Force’s current pilot crisis and winning future wars.”
To kick off the event, each flying training wing’s individual award winners, known as the “High Flyers,” were announced.
“These “High Flyers” have demonstrated they really love the mission, love to fly, and love to instruct,” said Doherty. “These awards really are meant to show these instructors how much we value what they do—we can’t accomplish our mission without them!”
The 19th AF C-130H “High Flyer” award was presented posthumously to the family of retired Lt. Col. Reagan Kyle “Shaggy” Whitlow, a former C-130 instructor pilot with the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing, who passed away in September 2018. Whitlow, a distinguished graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and the C-130 Weapons Instructor Course, was a mentor to many in the flying community.
“(Reagan) had a unique ability to light up a room with his one of a kind personality and character, and lived his life to the fullest, while bringing great happiness to all that he encountered,” Doherty said. “His achievements brought great credit to himself, his family, and the United States Air Force. He is and will be missed.”
This year’s team winners are:
- Top Future Aviator Category: 1st Flying Training Squadron, 12th Flying Training Wing, Pueblo, Colorado
- T-6 Category: 33rd FTS, 71st Flying Training Wing, Vance AFB, Oklahoma
- T-1 Category: 3rd FTS, 71st Flying Training Wing, Vance AFB, Oklahoma
- T-38 Category: 25th FTS, 71st Flying Training Wing, Vance AFB, Oklahoma
- Combat Systems Officer/Remotely Pilot Aircraft/Air Battle Manager Category: 337th Air Control Squadron, 33rd Fighter Wing, Tyndall AFB, Florida
- Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals Category: 435th Fighter Training Squadron, 12th Flying Training Wing, JBSA-Randolph, Texas
- Pilot Instructor Training Category: 560th Flying Training Squadron, 12th Flying Training Wing, JBSA-Randolph, Texas
- Fighter Category: 310th FS, 56th Fighter Wing, Luke AFB, Arizona
- Rotary Category: 71st Special Operations Squadron, 58th Special Operations Wing, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico
- Special Operations Forces/Mobility Squadron Category: 415th Special Operations Squadron, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico
- Top Maintenance Group in Gray Jet Division: 173rd Maintenance Group, 173rd Fighter Wing, Kingsley Field, Oregon
- Top Maintenance Group in White Jet Division: M1 Support Services, Sheppard AFB, Texas
- Top Maintenance Group in Gray Tail Division: 58th Maintenance Group, 58th Special Operations Wing, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico
- Top Operations Group in White Jet Division: 71st Operation Group, 71st Flying Training Wing, Vance AFB, Oklahoma
- Top Operations Group in Gray Tail Division: 97th Operations Group, 97th Air Mobility Wing, Altus AFB, Oklahoma
- Top Operations Group in Gray Jet Division: 56th Operation Group, 56th Fighter Wing, Luke AFB, Arizona
- Top Wing in White Jet Division: 71st Flying Training Wing, Vance AFB, Oklahoma
- Top Wing in Gray Jet Division: 173rd Fighter Wing, Kingsley Field, Oregon
- Top Wing in Gray Tail Division: 58th Special Operations Wing, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico
- Top Wing of Wings: 71st Flying Training Wing, Vance AFB, Oklahoma
“Keeping the flying training machine running requires everyone – the instructors, staff and our maintainers – to be ready to execute the mission every single day,” Doherty said. “We are so grateful for and proud of the work our team does to ensure we continue to produce the combat aviators of tomorrow.”
The 19th Air Force is responsible for the training of more than 30,000 U.S. and allied students annually in numerous specialties ranging from aircrews; remotely piloted aircraft crews; air battle managers; weapons directors; Air Force Academy Airmanship programs and survival, escape, resistance and evasion Specialists. They execute operational-level command and control of all formal aircrew flying training missions within the Air Education and Training Command and provide Airmen with a 5th generation, cross-domain warrior mindset to the Combat Air Forces, Mobility Air Forces and Special Operations Air Forces to sustain the combat capability of the United States Air Force.