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NEWS | Feb. 18, 2020

Pilot Training Next celebrates first solo flights on 25th training day

By Jennifer Gonzalez Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

Pilot Training Next's third iteration marked a milestone as two students flew their first solos at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Feb. 14. 

U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Gabe Cavender and Royal Air Force Flying Officer Ben Morris soloed in the T-6B Texan II, which marks the 25th day of training.  

“Pilot Training Next is exploring the individualized training environment,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Riley, Det. 24 commander. “What that means is that we move at the pace of the student, not the pace of the syllabus.”

PTN uses virtual reality simulators, called immersive training devices, or ITDs, to enrich flying time. To date, Cavender has flown 14 VR sorties and Morris has flown 15. These sessions improve flying time by allowing students to repeatedly practice basic flight fundamentals, flight paths and refine competencies.

“There was a misconception that PTN took the flying out of flying training and that is not the case at all,” said Lt. Col. Robert Knapp, operations officer for Det. 24. “We use ITDs so the students are able to practice individual maneuvers at a higher frequency and achieve a greater depth of knowledge before they strap into the jet.”

VR immersive training devices has proven to be a highly effective training tool in the past two iterations of PTN. By using this off-the-shelf technology, coupled with artificial intelligence, PTN has created a capability that permits more repetition of individual maneuvers than the traditional flying training program. This repetition enables students to gain competencies faster than ever before.

PTN is a program to explore an individualized training environment, which integrates various technologies to produce pilots in an accelerated and learning-focused manner.