Maj. Rusty Wallace, 340th Flying Training Group, goes through a pre-flight checklist at the cockpit of a T-38 on the Randolph flight line. (Photo by Steve White) (Photo by Steve White)
RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas —
The 340th Flying Training Group, headquartered here, administers and executes the Reserve associate pilot program throughout the Air Education and Training Command.
The group is a unit of the 10th Air Force, headquartered at Carswell Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas, which in turn is part of the Air Force Reserve Command. The 10th AF is responsible for all fighter, space, rescue and undergraduate pilot training units in the Reserves.
To fulfill this mission, the 340th FTG has 443 instructor pilots positioned in its six subordinate squadrons where they fly seamlessly alongside active duty IPs in the T-1, T-6, T-37, T-38 and AT-38 aircraft. In FY 2006, they flew more than 50,500 sorties and conducted almost 36,700 ground training events.
"We fly about 20 percent of the AETC pilot training missions at the bases where these aircraft are assigned," said Col. Robert Williamson, 340th FTG commander. "We provide both full-time active Reservists and part-time traditional Reservists for these duties. They are all fully qualified IPs and bring a wealth of flying and instructor experience to support the training mission in both the instructor pilot and operational supervisory roles."
From the student's point of view, there is no difference in the instruction provided by the active duty and Reserve IPs, but to the Reservist, it is a great way to remain a part of the Air Force community, said Col. Dean Matcheck, 340th FTG vice-commander
"From the Air Force-level budgetary point of view, there is a real cost savings by using the traditional Reservists," he said.
Colonel Matcheck speaks from experience. He lives in Georgia and, as a civilian, flies for Delta Airlines. He travels to Randolph for his traditional Reserve duty time.
"This makes real sense for the Air Force," Colonel Matcheck continued, "because it capitalizes on the 'sunk costs' of previously trained military pilots and recaptures their expertise that would be lost if they were not kept current"
The 340th FTG also provides a surge capability that can be tasked in emergency situations or to help reduce the high ops tempo for the active duty force, Colonel Matcheck said.
Operationally, the group reports to the 19th Air Force, the AETC unit responsible for flight training.
"We have a complex administrative and operational chain of command," Colonel Williamson said. "Additionally, we provide personnel, finance and plans support to certain Air Combat Command units on four of their bases, all with a headquarters staff of only 69 people."
Colonel Williamson pointed out a new Web-based scheduling system, developed in-house at the 340th FTG. Through this system, a Reservist in one state can request duty at his or her flying base in another state, have the schedule approved, orders cut, and arrangements for travel and billeting made, all within a matter of a few minutes.