Deputy commander meets with Laughlin teammates, experiences Team XL

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class David Phaff
  • 47th Flying Training Wing public affairs

Maj. Gen. William Spangenthal, deputy commander of Air Education and Training Command, visited the 47th Flying Training Wing this month to witness how Team XL is furthering an environment of excellence for Airmen stationed here.

Cultivating an environment of excellence includes ensuring Airmen and families have a safe, secure environment for them to live and work. This was reinforced during Spangenthal’s visit as he toured Ricks Hall and enlisted dorms.

“AETC training dormitories are foundational to developing Airmen and a critical power projection platform,” said Spangenthal. “Just like a fleet of aircraft requires proper budgeting and sustainment to accomplish the mission, we must view our dormitories as a unique weapons system requiring the same to produce the Airmen we need.”

Improvements to the base extend to the flightline. Laughlin leaders are diligently working towards a new T-38 shelter/T-1 sunshade project, which will protect Laughlin’s fleet and crews from severe Del Rio weather.  Spangenthal visited the proposed site for the project.

“Predictable investment in resources and equipment used to train and educate Airmen is critical in our ability to have operational success in a great power competition,” said Spangenthal. “We have made a concerted effort, and will continue that message, to ensure we get adequate funding to address the shortfalls in our training facility infrastructure.”

Currently, the T-1 sunshade project has early investments thanks to a stronger partnership with the Val Verde County Government. The T-1 fleet will get a dozen new sunshades, creating a better work environment for maintainers, and protecting the vital fleet from the elements.

“The strength of our bases is built on many things, including partnerships with community members,” said Spangenthal. “The partnership between Laughlin and Del Rio is a great example of what can be achieved when we work together.”  

Spangenthal was also given a closer look into Laughlin’s living quarters and he flew a training sortie with a student pilot.

“It’s always great to fly with the future of our Air Force,” said Spangenthal, “So to see our FAIPs (first assignment instructor pilots) teaching the next generation of combat, air mobility, and special operations forces is nothing but fantastic. We got to fly the first sortie with a young man who’s going to track to the T-38 and I could not be more excited. When I see the team, I see a glimmer of the future, and it's bright because we have some really talented Airmen.”

Laughlin Air Force Base uses the T-6 Texan II, T-38C Talon, and the T-1A Jayhawk to teach American and allied nation’s pilots to fly. Laughlin is the largest primary pilot training base in the US Air Force.

“Laughlin is a critical piece of our undergraduate pilot training enterprise and not only that, they are our top producers,” said Spangenthal. “Without Laughlin, we’re never going to create the number of pilots that we need to not only prepare for the future, but to be ready for today.”