Enhanced Student Flight Training
By 2d Lt. Elizabeth Mesecher, 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published April 04, 2009
BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts -- It is still dark out on a Saturday morning in March. Student Flight members and a few staff members from the 104th Fighter Wing prepare to embark upon a rather non-traditional training weekend. It is not an Air Force bus pulling through the gates of Lackland Air Force Base, but rather a caravan of vehicles that trek from Westfield to Otis Air National Guard Base on the Cape. The student flight members from the 104th will be joined by student flight members from the 102nd, 212th and Joint Forces Headquaters.
Once we arrive at Otis the students are instructed to wait until they are greeted by an instructor. Once they are all inside the building they wait in a large conference room. Here they are instructed to listen and follow all directions that the instructors will be giving them. They are then herded out in small groups to be weighed-in and undergo a shakedown inspection by their drill instructor, Tech. Sgt. Simeone. Then the games begin. Here is where most of them received their first taste of what they might be able to expect at BASIC training.
Once they have been in-processed, and been issued their first MRE, the students are ready to commence their training. The students receive training both in and out of the classroom. They are instructed on giving a reporting statement, proper wear of the uniform, and customs and courtesies. The students undergo their first Air Force Fitness Assessment. Then it is back to the dorms for another hasty uniform change. Then fall out for dinner with the Army National Guard. Dinner is followed by more classroom training on suicide prevention and sexual assault awareness with the Army National Guard. The day wraps up with a team building exercise hosted by the 102nd instructors.
The next day the students are woken up abruptly for another round of physical fitness assessment with the Army. After breakfast, dorm clean up and out processing, the day culminates with a graduation ceremony conducted by the Army National Guard. Then it is back to Westfield.
The training the student flight members received this weekend is intended to prepare them for the next step in their Air Force careers, BASIC training. They were exposed to a number of mental and physical challenges in a structured training environment in order to help them assess their individual level of preparation for Basic Training. Therefore, if they aren't as prepared as they need to be then they will know it. The objectives of the program are actually quite simple. By creating a controlled level of stress, while assessing their weight and level of physical conditioning, the training is organized to help each individual to understand and experience the benefits of teamwork and develop increased self confidence. Throughout their training, concepts of personal accountability and responsibility are continually reinforced, as is following instructions, meeting and exceeding standards, and pushing themselves to excel.
As this program progresses students will have the opportunity to experience more non-service specific training with the Army National Guard which will include Army combat skills training. Without a doubt another intense and rewarding weekend can be expected. The next Enhanced Student Flight Training Program will be held the weekend of 17-19 July at Otis ANGB.