KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- For some fighter pilots, a whole career leads up to one point. The moment where, at the pinnacle of all required training, they begin training to become an instructor pilot.
The future generation of fighter pilots rely on their instructors. Quite literally, the weight of the world is on their shoulders.
Many pilots selected for this training have spent their whole careers preparing for the opportunity to become an instructor pilot and Aug. 9, this became reality for some of Kadena’s best.
Capt. Benjamin Worrall, 67th Fighter Squadron operations flight commander, said candidates for the instructor pilot position are selected by flight and squadron leaders, and other instructor pilots, based on their experience and performance in the aircraft.
“It’s interesting, because when you look at the whole process to be an instructor pilot, it’s really about 12 flying events, four simulator events and 10 hours of academics sessions,” said Lt. Col. Paul Townsend, 18th Operations Support Squadron commander. “Those are just the structured syllabus-mandated events. When you look at how much self-study, how much time goes into this, it’s hard to put into numbers.”
Townsend has been an instructor pilot for 10 years and is now an evaluator for pilots going through the program.
“This upgrade program is built upon all of the experience and training I’ve gained during my flying career,” said Worrall. “There is significant preparation time required to assure you have the required knowledge and skillset. Additionally, each individual mission involves significant preparation in order to effectively brief, execute, and debrief to improve all flight members’ proficiency.”
Worrall passed the offensive basic fighter maneuvering with Townsend as his instructor Aug. 9. During this phase, they flew together and practiced air-to-air combat.
“I can probably safely bet he spent 40-60 hours for this one ride to get ready and prepared to complete it,” said Townsend. “He did a great job in the briefing of being very instructional, giving me those tools I needed to be successful if I was a young mission qualification training guy.”
Townsend expressed his satisfaction with Worrall’s performance during this mission and said he would trust him to train future pilots.
“I knew Captain Worrall when he was in the 44th Fighter Squadron and we flew together,” said Townsend. “To see him progress and get to this level and see him grow as a pilot brings me a tremendous amount of satisfaction.”
Worrall expressed his gratitude for being selected to become an instructor pilot and influence the next generation of fighter pilots.
“I’m humbled to have been given the opportunity to become an instructor pilot in the F-15,” said Worrall. “I’ve been through a lot of training and preparation leading up to this point, so I’m very excited to be able to expand my skillset as a fighter pilot.”
This expanded skillset will lead to greater responsibility within the 67th FS for Worrall.
“After completing the Instructor Pilot Upgrade (IPUG), I will be utilized within the squadron to train other pilots,” said Worrall. “This will range from providing mission qualification training to new F-15C pilots on the island, to developing new flight leads and instructors to improve the overall combat capability of the 67th Fighter Squadron.”
Providing the 67th FS with combat-ready F-15 pilots is a key piece in the defense of our allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The F-15 Eagle is a superior tactical fighter and can hold 36,200 pounds of fuel with the ability to travel over 3,000 miles, making it possible to reach any ally in need when necessary.