Newsletter 118 – July 2019

Newsletter 118 July 2019

Pipistrel ALPHA trainer aircraft drafted into USAF Training Program

The Pipistrel ALPHA trainer aircraft has been successfully used to train Future Air Force Pilots in the Aviation-Character-Education (A.C.E.) Solo Flight Program.

The U.S. Air Force has selected Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum in Compton, CA and US Aeroclub in Fullerton, CA as the primary contractors for its Aviation-Character-Education (A.C.E.) Solo Flight Program.

According to the Air Force, the program is “an inclusive, comprehensive, and low-cost solution to address the “warfighting imperative” of increased diversity and pilot shortage through deliberate development of the next generation of USAF officers prior to and shortly after commissioning.”

So, what does all this mean in English?

The US Air Force is trying to address the shortage of pilots coming up through their ranks. To train a single pilot in the US Air Force system up to solo flights can cost as much as $200,000, at some stage during the training it could be discovered that the applicant has insufficient skills or ability to continue flying and the Air Force has lost a lot of money in the process. This exciting new A.C.E. solo flight program allows the Air Force to find suitable pilot candidates for a lot less money, in fact the total program for 20 students came in at under $100,000, well under the U.S. Air Force cost of $200,000 per student!

The first deployment of four Pipistrel ALPHA Trainers were dispatched from California to Tuskegee Alabama where the first group of 20 students went through the training system from first training flight to solo and ground school in between. Out of the 20 participants, 17 went through to solo flight, two students couldn’t solo because they hadn’t received their FAA certificate and unfortunately one student suffered from motion sickness every time they took to the air.

The A.C.E. program provides mentorship, motivation, and multi-faceted benefits by identifying and attracting high school students, cadets, and junior officers from all demographics and backgrounds, then providing them critical tools proven to increase rates of success. A.C.E. is specifically focused on promoting and developing future USAF leaders and aviators in a holistic manner (i.e., beyond aviation knowledge) and its success centers upon robust engagement with Total Force role models and mentors.

The objective of A.C.E. is for students to receive the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and flight training needed to successfully solo an airplane, while also receiving mentorship that provides the character development and knowledge needed to succeed as a USAF or civilian aviator. The goal of this program is to identify natural pilots and direct them through to a career in the US Air Force.

The program A.C.E. Solo Flight Program ran for two weeks and a little over 400 flying hours were completed. A very worn out team of instructors were happy to waive goodbye to the students but were confident that many of these would continue their flight training in the future and possibly make their way into the US Air Force.

A very worn out team of instructors and maintainers ready for a week off and then another group of students

In three weeks’ time the program shifts to Compton CA for the next intake, this time 30 students will be participating and they will be flying seven Pipistrel ALPHA Trainer aircraft over a three-week period.

Congratulations to the team from the US Air Force, Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum, US Aeroclub and our very talented group of instructors for making this program possible.