LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas—First Lt. Monica Kestermann, 86th Flying Training Squadron T-1A Jayhawk instructor pilot, was chosen by wing leadership to be the “XLer of the Week”, for the week of March 4, 2019, at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.
The “XLer” award, presented by Col. Lee Gentile, 47th FTW commander, is given to those who consistently make outstanding contributions to their unit and the Laughlin mission.
Kestermann has made a statement in her squadron through her dedication to her students and to learning her craft. Her leadership sees her as one who embodies the culture of the squadron by safely accomplishing the mission and how she takes care of not only her students but her peers as well.
Kestermann is not only one of 97 qualified aviators for non-tower-airfields, but she is among the top five of them here at Laughlin. This has allowed her to carry out 21 student flights which led everyone to pass their check ride.
“The greatest thing about teaching is seeing progress in our students,” Kestermann said. “Being given the opportunity to help a student who comes in brand new, or who may be struggling in an area, and getting them to a level where they not only understand the aircraft and the mission, but are excelling at executing it is wonderful.”
Another stride Kestermann took was innovating the first-ever training program in which student pilots awaiting T-1 training were given the opportunity to gain hands-on familiarity with the aircraft here.
“The power-on checks allow students to go out to the aircraft with an instructor, and practice everything from the walk around to flipping switches,” she said. “It really gives the students an enhanced learning environment by allowing them to see the systems in action, annunciators light up, and ask any questions they may have to an instructor in real time.”
Another part of training Kestermann emphasizes are tests. She led eight Unit Standardization Evaluation Monitors which provided extra instruction outside of the aircraft and the academic classroom to help the students focus on areas they felt were unclear or they were struggling with. USEM provides standardized student training through the following activities: stand up emergency procedures, standardization topics, and general knowledge of aircraft and flight regulations. It provides students focused preparation for flights and ground evaluations.
“The academic tests are the first hurdle the students face in preparation for flying and simulations.” Kestermann said. “By focusing on the academic tests the students were about to take, we were able to help them refine their aircraft systems knowledge and send them into the testing environment with an understanding of how that knowledge relates to the flight line.”
Kestermann also scheduled 1,700 academic events, devoted 2,000 hours to two classes which was vital to the implementation of the new T-1 syllabus. Another project she is working on is finalizing a library in the break room with books of aviation and leadership for pilots and students during their down time. She was recognized by wing leadership as this week’s “XLer” for not only her dedication to her students but to her job and her squadron as well.
“There are so many wonderful people at Laughlin who contribute to getting the mission done safely and effectively, so it is definitely an honor to be recognized among them,” Kestermann said.