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Simulator instructor’s efforts to improve processes lead to AETC-level AFA award

By Robert Goetz | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | Jan. 18, 2019


More than four years ago, an Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals simulator instructor at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph noticed that aircraft shelters were sometimes illuminated during daytime hours – a waste of energy and tax dollars.


A few months later, an Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century Continuous Process Improvement event he facilitated resulted in remedies for excess energy usage at the shelters.



He has enthusiastically championed the CPI program ever since.


For his devotion to continuous process improvement and his work with IFF students, David Bernacki, 12th Training Squadron IFF simulator/academic instructor supervisor, has been chosen as Air Education and Training Command winner of the 2019 Air Force Association Lisa S. Disbrow Outstanding Civilian of the Year Award.

Bernacki, a retired Air Force fighter pilot who has served as a civilian simulator/academic instructor for nearly 20 years, including 12 years at JBSA-Randolph, said he was “extremely surprised” when Lt. Col. Brian McKay, 12th TRS commander, came to his work station this month, told him about the award and presented him with a coin while thanking him for his CPI efforts.

"It’s a pretty distinguished award for someone like me who is just trying to make improvements,” said Bernacki, who is an Air Force-certified CPI black belt. “I’ve found that small improvements can compound themselves for huge savings.”

Bernacki is now a candidate for the award at the Air Force level. The award recognizes an Air Force civilian employee who exemplifies the professionalism and dedication to duty of former Under Secretary of the Air Force Lisa S. Disbrow, who was pivotal in driving acquisition of new technologies and capabilities for warfighters and increased funding to modernization programs.


McKay said Bernacki is a worthy recipient of the award.


“Mr. Bernacki, who we call ‘Naks,’ is a tireless advocate for innovation, process improvement and, most importantly, training our newest wingmen as they transition from pilot training to the Combat Air Forces,” he said. “His supervisor, Frank King, was quick to nominate Naks given the great work he has done for the 12th Training Squadron and the wing.”


Bernacki has devoted his time to more than 20 CPI events for the 12th Flying Training Wing, McKay said.


“His accomplishments range from scheduling efficiencies to reducing bird strikes,” he said. “It’s hard to pick just one thing since Naks never stops working on behalf of the squadron and the Air Force.”


The citation accompanying Bernacki’s AETC-level award recognized him for his work with the 12th TRS and his CPI achievements during the 2018 calendar year, including the reduction of additional duties by planning and facilitating the wing-wide process improvement event that spotted 176 duties to eliminate, saving 17,664 man-hours across 21 units.


“His relentless pursuit of process improvement saved the Air Force over $1.5 million, which resulted in the wing winning the AETC Continuum of Learning Innovation Challenge Institutional Culture category,” the citation reads. “Finally, he secured a U.S. Trademark and Patent Office Patent Pending for a bird-deterrent system to help reduce bird strikes during 85,373 flying operations annually.”



Some of the CPI events Bernacki has facilitated since he became involved in the program have explored ways to improve the 12th Operations Group’s registrar process to meet a projected increase in the number of students enrolled in remotely piloted aircraft courses, boost the number of sorties flown by the wing’s two T-38C flying squadrons, address inefficiencies in a program that requires the use of a federal government credit card to purchase jet fuel at off-station locations and increase simulator missions to accommodate the additional students enrolled in the 435th Fighter Training Squadron’s IFF course.

McKay said the name “Naks” is synonymous with CPI at JBSA-Randolph.

“When I’m at the gym on a Saturday morning, Naks has his computer and papers on the stationary bike working through a CPI problem,” he said. “In addition, as a black belt, he is always looking to provide green belt training to the entire wing, to include the 306th Flying Training Group at the Air Force Academy and the 479th Flying Training Group at Naval Air Station Pensacola.”