87th Flying Training Squadron welcomes new commander

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Larsen
  • 47th Flying Training Wing
87th Flying Training Squadron Airmen bid farewell to Lt. Col. Christopher Johansson, prior commander of the 87th FTS, and welcomed new commander Lt. Col. Johnathan Radtke, during a change of command ceremony here, May 9, 2024.

Col. James Blech, 47th Operations Group commander, presided over the ceremony, noting the pivotal role the 87th FTS plays as a producer in one of the largest pilot-producing bases in the Air Force.

“What we do here at Laughlin is not easy, you can walk outside to those airplanes and feel that oppressive heat,” said Blech. “As you see those airplanes fly by though, you know that training pilots is imperative and this is a calling.”

Radtke continues his time here at Laughlin AFB, previously serving as the Chief of Safety for the 47th Flying Training Wing since September of 2022. As the commander of the 87th FTS, he now oversees 57 Airmen engaged in executing more than 11,870 T-38C Talon sorties yearly.

“I am truly humbled to stand here before you today, wearing the commander’s pin of the 87th Flying Training Squadron,” said Radtke. “I am profoundly grateful for the trust and confidence placed in me by our leadership and the unwavering support of each and every one of you.”

The 87th Fighter Interception Squadron was redesignated the 87th Flying Training Squadron and activated on April 2, 1990 at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, flying the T-38A Talon advanced supersonic trainer. The squadron now flies the T-38C Talon; with a mission of training USAF and Allied officers to fly fighter and bomber aircraft as a component of the 47th Flying Training Wing.

“As we look ahead to the challenges and opportunities that lie before this nation, together, we will push the boundaries of excellence and continue to demonstrate what winning looks like,” said Radtke. “We will embrace change with optimism and adaptability, knowing that it is through adversity that we grow stronger and more resilient.”

Johansson served as commander of 87th FTS since May of 2022 and will be moving to Tinker AFB and will be an instructor at the Air Force Advanced Instrument School.

“It’s been the honor of my lifetime to serve as your commander,” said Johansson. “You’ve done amazing things as a team of dedicated warriors. I’m truly humbled by your energy and devotion.”