Expanding the operational horizons of Airmen

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

Airmen from the 47th Comptroller Squadron, 47th Medical Group and 47th Security Forces squadron recently participated in an “Ops Immersion” tour of flying operations to gain insight to the mission of the 47th Flying Training Wing. 

Lt. Sarah Cap, 47th CPTS flight commander, orchestrated the tour after learning that Airmen across the installation are often unaware of many aspects of the daily mission at Laughlin.  

After hearing two transient F-22 Raptors landed at Laughlin during a “pet the jet” event, Cap expressed her excitement to colleagues and was met with questions and an unknown disconnect in understanding about mission execution.  

Her encounter revealed an opportunity for learning and connection. It was not just about getting answers to Airmen’s questions about the larger mission, it was about igniting and fostering the sense of curiosity they had shown toward Air Force flying operations.  

“I went home and told my husband the story and we decided that we needed to make a program to get Team XL more invested in flying operations,” said Cap.  

The Ops Immersion tour aims to create cross-functional engagement and to fuse base-level efforts to inform Airmen of Team XL’s purpose.  

Laughlin’s mission is to build combat-ready Airmen, leaders and pilots. The base serves as the seventh of the busiest airfield in the Department of the Air Force and is aiming to graduate 375 pilots in 2024. 

“The primary objective of the program is to promote networking,” said Cap, “provide professional development, and connect all Airmen across base to their role in Laughlin’s pilot training mission.” 

Participants had the opportunity to network and engage with air traffic controllers, instructor pilots, maintainers, and more, catching a glimpse into part of the 47th FTW mission they might not have the opportunity to see on a regular basis.  

“I think this tour really helps [Airmen from] smaller squadrons see the big picture that Laughlin is supporting through our mission, and puts what we work toward everyday into context,” said Airman Benjamin Carpenter, 47th Communication Squadron client systems technician. “As a new Airman on base, it’s easy to hear how we support the mission, but the tour really helps us see the actual mission.” 

Tour organizers aim to execute this experience monthly with messages distributed to leadership two to three weeks before each tour. 

“We’d like to get people more involved in what flight line operations look like and how their respective unit contributes to the overall mission,” said Cap. "We think it’s a great way to learn about the wide range of talents across Team XL and how we combine to build combat-ready Airmen, leaders and pilots.” 

Organizers of the tour aim to foster a deeper sense of purpose and unity within Airmen from diverse units such as medical, security forces or finance to the overarching base mission through these immersive tours.  

By stepping into the world of flight line operations, Airmen can see firsthand how their roles, whether ensuring the health and readiness of Team XL, safeguarding the base's assets, or managing financial operations, are pivotal to the success of training pilots.  

“We believe it is critically important to have Airmen educated and excited about the importance of their contribution to the pilot training mission at Laughlin,” said Cap. “and on a greater scale how all our efforts combine to allow for the delivery of airpower across the world. Our tours are open to both new and seasoned members, with the hopes to show anyone on base that what they are doing is important and worthwhile.”