LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
1st Lt. James Tracey, 85th Flying Training Squadron instructor pilot, was chosen by wing leadership to be the “XLer” of the week, for the week of June 16, 2018, at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.
The “XLer” award, presented by Col. Charlie Velino, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, is given to those who consistently make outstanding contributions to their unit and the Laughlin mission.
During Laughlin’s “Fiesta of Flight” Open House and Airshow, Tracey led a 15-member team managing $5,600 in squadron funding to help sell unit merchandise, building a stronger relationship between the local community and the base.
“In the process we got to explain what we do,” Tracey said. “Which ultimately strengthened Laughlin’s image and relationship with the people of Del Rio.”
Tracey is a stand-out instructor pilot, or IP, and as a first assignment instructor pilot, he instructed 30 flights covering more than 320 syllabus events, which is crucial to the wing’s number one mission.
“As an IP, I get to train and mentor a small part of the nation’s next generation of pilots,” he said. “It can be challenging at times, but it’s very rewarding.”
During a training flight, his knowledge and skill in the air recovered an emergency aircraft, saving his and his student’s life. While practicing a routine stall recovery maneuver, the student got on the throttle at the wrong time, potentially compromising the aircraft’s engine.
“Per our regulations, when this happens we must conduct a Precautionary Emergency Landing by gliding the aircraft to the nearest suitable field while using as little power as possible,” Tracey said. “The situation was complicated by the fact that there was a solid overcast layer of clouds that was only 1,000-1,200 feet off the ground that day. It was a huge relief to get the airplane on the ground safely.”
Tracey also stepped out of his wheelhouse to help with student simulation training, which is normally the job of the civilian simulator instructor, or CIS. In the face of syllabus changes and CIS manning shortfalls, Tracey led five simulator events, freeing up an extra six-and-a-half hours of training.
With Laughlin being his first assignment after pilot training, Tracey is happy to be working with the 85th FTS.
“The 85th is great,” Tracey said. “Everyone is awesome to work with and there’s a good sense of community that makes the long hours at work a lot better.”
For his hard work in making sure Laughlin’s mission is carried out, Tracey was awarded the “XLer of the week.”