Ambush Florida: Laughlin T-6s fly to the sunshine state

  • Published
  • By SrA Nicholas Larsen
  • 47th Flying Training Wing

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- When a group of tigers get together it is known as an ambush. Following in the footsteps of their wild brethren, pilots of the 85th Flying Training Squadron come together once a year to fly across the country and “ambush” another region of the country. Laughlin’s pilots ventured out in 29 T-6A Texan II training aircraft and ambushed the Southeast, Oct. 13-16, flying to five bases and gaining valuable experience for instructors and students alike.  


“The Ambush Florida [mission] consist of a detachment of instructor pilots, student pilots, and support personnel conducting training missions and instructor development at MacDill Air Force Base and some of the surrounding bases in Florida,” said Capt. Samuel "FLIP" Sumner, 85th Flying Training Squadron chief of standardization and evaluations.  “We’re hoping to improve our instructor pilots and their abilities to handle complex missions. We’re also looking to enhance student training through some unfamiliar airfields.” 


These airfields ranged throughout the Southeast, sending out pilots from the hub of MacDill to as far north as Moody Air Force Base, and as far south as Naval Air Station Key West. Pilots from Laughlin ventured out to the surrounding bases and spoke with other pilots and units from those bases gaining insight into the missions of those bases. In addition to exploring other missions, pilots gained valuable experience for long travel in the T-6 Texan II.  


“Ambush Florida presents new challenges with unfamiliar airfield operations and unfamiliar airspace, including busy Class Bravo airspace in the Tampa area,” said Maj. Bradley “Badger” Sutton, 47th Operations Support Squadron director of operations. “This sharpened the skills of every pilot on the trip through exposure and contingency.” 



The exposure to the new locations provides many opportunities for these pilots to train and allows for them to work together better with the aircrew with whom they fly.  


“Going out with aircrew is always a treat, no matter what airplane you’re on,” smiled Capt. Maggie Siembida, 85th Flying Training Squadron instructor pilot. “You end up having a good time with your crew and you get to know people you wouldn’t normally get to know at work.” 


Working with other aircrews on a long-distance mission helped many pilots grow their skill in coordination and leadership as well as gave opportunities for leadership and growth.  


“I had to interface with a lot of different agencies at both Laughlin and MacDill, as well as our stops along the way,” said Sumner. “All of that coordination and delegating to other pilots in the squadron, so that we can have an effective team plan this, was a really valuable experience.” 


The experience gained from this expedition help our instructors become better leaders and help our students become better pilots, all adding up to creating the next generation of airpower.