LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
First Lieutenant Clay Reierson, 86th Flying Training Squadron instructor pilot and flight scheduler, was chosen by wing leadership to be the “XLer” of the week, for the week of July, 23, 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 this year’s change of command season, Reierson, a native of Evergreen, Colo., was assigned to be the point of contact for the 86th FTS change of command.
“On top of flying and scheduling, I was responsible for coordinating between various on base agencies,” Reierson said. “Coordinating with different base agencies was the biggest challenge. All the obstacles and challenges made it all the more rewarding to see the change of command go smoothly.”
One change in student undergraduate pilot training Reierson helped accommodate was the growing class sizes. He stayed busy scheduling 16 flights and flight simulations to help accommodate the influx of students, ensuring they met their officer training requirements.
“Growing class sizes provide greater opportunities to fly, but they also demand instructor pilots and students alike to be diligent with time management,” Reierson explained.
During one of his numerous flying missions to train students in the T-1A Jayhawk, Reierson ran into an in-flight emergency. He safely recovered the aircraft, safeguarding the lives of three people and saving the Air Force $4.1 million.
After the initial take off, he said, his crew was going to practice different types of landing procedures. After attempting to extend the gear for their first landing, the gear would not extend. After multiple attempts to extend the gear, the crew made a decision to ‘emergency extend’ the gear and emergency retracting the landing gear doors. Reierson was the one to extend the gear and to land the aircraft safely.
“Initially, the feeling was that of confusion, just because [landing] is such a routine thing that we take for granted,” Reierson said. “After we identified the problem, the entire crew was calm and worked to troubleshoot the problem. We knew the jet was flying fine, and we had plenty of gas. Using emergency systems can be nerve racking, but everything worked out.”
Reierson is also noted by those he works with to have a good character, run a tight schedule, and lead with motivation. His accomplishments not only earned him a good reputation in his squadron, but also this week’s XLer.
“I am tremendously honored to have received this award,” Reierson said. “However, I see the award not as a personal gain, but rather a representation of the hard work and the dedication the entire 86th FTS puts in day in and day out.”