AFROTC Cadets Soar to New Heights During Visit to Laughlin Air Force Base

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keira Rossman
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

Four Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (AFROTC) cadets got a taste of life in the skies during a tour of Laughlin Air Force Base from 11 to 13 Jan.

The Texas A&M College AFROTC program is a leadership training program for students interested in pursuing a career in the military. The program combines academic coursework with physical and leadership training to prepare students for service as commissioned officers. Through this program, students at Texas A&M were given a chance to develop their leadership skills and gain exposure to military operations by visiting Laughlin.

"Texas A&M has over 700 AFROTC cadets enrolled; we are the largest AFROTC unit in the United States of America," said Lt. Col. Michael Pontiff, AFROTC 805th detachment assistant professor of aerospace studies. "Many of our newly commissioned officers go on to rated career fields, such as pilots."

The cadets were given a unique opportunity to fly with skilled Team XL pilots. The cadets witnessed the inner workings of a modern Air Force base and got a taste of the rigorous training and attention to detail required to become the world’s finest Air Force pilots.

The tour was a comprehensive experience that prepared the cadets for flight in the T-6 and T-38 aircraft. After clearance from the flight doctor, the cadets began training in aerospace physiology. This included brief sessions in a physiological chamber, local area survival training, and T-6/T-38 egress training. The
cadets then went through aircrew flight equipment training which covered the initial fitting of the G-suit, harness, and helmet.

The tour progressed with a visit to the RAPCON and Tower with the 47th Operation Support Squadron, simulation sessions in the T-6/T-38 simulators, and a thrilling T-6/T-38 incentive flight. Two of the four cadets received T-38 flights, and the remaining two received T-6 flights.

"There's a big difference between the Hollywood version of military aviation and the reality of it,” said Pointiff. "All the cadets experienced firsthand the rigor and difficulty of operating high-performance aircraft for the first time. They are now able to understand that the movies are a bit different, and they will be motivated to improve their grades and performance. They will be prepared to succeed in any rated career field.”

Captain Dylan Rabbitt, 47th Operations Group executive officer, coordinated the tour. With a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of aspiring pilots, Rabbitt has consolidated multiple visits that have helped young cadets prepare for a career in the Air Force.

"I think the tour was beneficial because it allowed the cadets to become immersed with the daily mission at the undergraduate pilot training base that produces the most pilot graduates per year," explained Rabbitt. "They got a glimpse of how everyone on base works together daily to accomplish our mission."

The visit to Laughlin was a valuable step in the cadets' development as future military officers and provided a first-hand look at what it takes to move forward in their training and careers.

"All of the cadets have shared their experience with other cadets in the Detachment," said Pointiff. "I thank Team XL for inspiring the next generation of military aviators through this experience, and maybe these cadets will return someday soon to continue their journey to earning Air Force Wings."