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NEWS | June 26, 2023

First 479th Flying Training Group First Assignment Instructor Pilot helps spearhead Undergraduate Pilot Training

By 1st Lt. Victor A. Reyes 12th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

The 479th Flying Training Group at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, recently welcomed 1st Lt. Hannah Michitsch, the group’s first-ever First Assignment Instructor Pilot, on April 19.

Michitsch completed the Pilot Instructor Training earlier this year after earning her wings at Undergraduate Pilot Training at Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.

“I am excited for the opportunity to instruct combat systems officer students here in Pensacola,” Michitsch said. “Flying from the front seat, as opposed to the back seat of the T-6, will resemble much of the training I had as a student, which I hope to use as an instructor now as I evaluate and teach.”

An assignment to the 479th FTG presents a unique opportunity for her as a FAIP. In contrast to instructing at a pilot training base, Michitsch will get to teach and evaluate students going through undergraduate combat systems officer training.

This is a monumental event for the group. As the unit’s very first FAIP, Michitsch hopes to pave the way for future First Assignment Instructor Pilots to instruct at NAS Pensacola while affording CSO students the best training possible.

“The experience that I will have flying with combat systems officer students will make me a better-prepared officer and aviator,” Michitsch said. “The scenarios and patterns flown here, in addition to neighboring Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base air traffic, will be a good challenge.”

As a 2020 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Michitsch always knew she wanted to serve her country. Now entering her first tour, she will continue to sharpen her flying skills in the T-6A Texan II.

Pilots and combat systems officers work hand in hand as aircrew members on several platforms across the U.S. Air Force inventory to project air power and secure our nation's defense. Regardless of the airframe, all undergraduate CSO training takes place with the 479th FTG at NAS Pensacola in Florida.

“We are incredibly proud to have 1st Lt. Michitsch on our team. She is not only a strong pilot and promising officer, but she will bring a fresh perspective as a newly-graduated FAIP,” said Col. Patrick Dierig, 479th FTG commander, when asked about UCT’s newest instructor pilot. “She will have a unique understanding of what our UCT students are experiencing, having recent experience as a UPT student. 

“This is a win-win-win situation,” Dierig added. “Michitsch wins by flying a ton and developing as an instructor.  The students win by having an instructor like her.  The Air Force wins by improving CSO training with Michitich’s arrival at the 479th FTG.”

Michitsch ultimately aims to provide a positive training experience for students while developing a sharp toolkit for herself as a first-time instructor.

“I hope after every lesson, students have something new they can take away from the flight,” Michitsch added. “It is very beneficial having a FAIP here, as some of the training I’ve had overlaps with those here and students can perfect these skills and learn from common mistakes.”

The 479th Flying Training Group at Naval Air Station Pensacola is the U.S. Air Force's only training pipeline for combat systems officers and comes under the 12th Flying Training Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. The 479th Operations Support Squadron, 479th Student Squadron, 455th Flying Training Squadron, and 451st Flying Training Squadron work in concert to graduate as many as 400 CSOs annually.