94 FTS Overview of Operations

The 94 FTS conducts over 17,000 training and competition glider sorties annually, focused on developing the officership, leadership and character of over 4,000 United States Air Force Academy and ROTC cadets, motivating them toward careers as Air Force officers. It conducts airmanship training at the United States Air Force’s busiest day, VFR-only airfield and provides an exceptional opportunity for cadet participation in an Air Force operational environment.  The squadron’s instructor pilot force consists of over 150 cadet instructor pilots, 23 active duty rated officers and 12 reserve rated officers. In addition, 4 civilians are assigned to the 94th Flying Training Squadron to support its extensive flying operations. The soaring fleet boasts 24 modern sailplanes and 7 contractor owned/maintained tow aircraft.

94 FTS Programs – Airmanship 100 – Introduction to Airmanship

Cadets get their first taste of Airmanship each summer in the middle of Basic Training during the 306 FTG’s Introduction to Airmanship (Airmanship 100).  Each Basic Cadet is given an airfield orientation tour and glider sortie to showcase various squadron and group airmanship programs available during their four years at the Academy.

94 FTS Programs – Airmanship 251 - Basic Soaring

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The Basic Soaring program (Airmanship 251) provides a motivational experience for 550 sophomore, junior, and senior cadets. These cadets fly the TG-16A (DG-1001 Club), which familiarizes them with aircraft controls, aircrew checklists, and area/pattern work. The 94th Flying Training Squadron flies over 7,000 Airmanship 251 sorties annually during both the summer and academic year. Airmanship 251 offers an opportunity for solo flight based on student performance.

94 FTS Programs – Airmanship 461 – Cadet Instructor Pilot Upgrade

Essential to the Basic Soaring program, the Cadet Instructor Pilot Upgrade course (Airmanship 461) is a semester-long program in which 35 third classmen are selected from eligible applicants to become soaring instructor pilots. The 35 sophomores are selected based upon their flying ability as well as academic and military performance. After 20 hours of demanding ground school, an average of 80 training flights, and a formal ground and flight evaluation, the upgraders earn their wings and become the Air Force’s youngest instructor pilots.
Cadet instructors are then enrolled in one of two airmanship courses. One instructs the 550 Basic Soaring students each year (Airmanship 472). Basic Soaring instructors teach during the academic day and during the summer.
Cadet instructor pilots enrolled in the other course, Airmanship 473, are charged with the primary training for the next group of cadet instructor pilots. Airmanship 473 instructor pilots must accumulate at least 100 instructional sorties before they are qualified to teach all phases of upgrade training. In addition to flying during the academic day, these instructors volunteer their time after school and on weekends, which epitomizes their dedication and love of flight.


In December 1998, the 94 FTS obtained permission to award the WWII style US Army Air Corps Glider Pilot Wings to cadet instructor pilots. Approval was granted by the National WWII Glider Pilots Association, Inc. and by the Superintendent of USAFA. Mr. Werner Birkelbach, a WWII glider pilot, presented the first round of "G" wings to the Fall Semester AM-461 graduates during a ceremony in early December. Upon successful completion of Airmanship 461 training, all cadets are honored to wear these historic wings, signifying their new status as a Glider Instructor Pilot.

94 FTS Advanced Programs 

Cadet instructors willing to go the extra mile have the opportunity to earn advanced qualifications, such as aerobatics, spin training, cross-country, and wave flying.  The USAF Academy has two advanced sailplane teams, each composed of approximately 12 seasoned cadet instructor pilots and 8 officer cadre.
The objectives of the Advanced Programs teams are:

  • To support Air Force Academy recruiting and community relations
  • To enhance instructor competence, confidence, and proficiency
  • To demonstrate to the public the professional competence of Air Force Academy cadets
  • To strengthen morale and esprit de corps among the Air Force Academy cadets

Both teams send members to a myriad of air shows, competitions, and training camps across the country.

94th Flying Training Squadron – Aerobatics Team

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The Cadet Aerobatic Demonstration Team flies the TG-16A and performs precision aerobatic maneuvers during competitions and aerobatic demonstrations throughout the United States.  Aerobatic maneuvers include the: Chandelle, Lazy Eight, Loop, Cloverleaf, Immelmann, Split S, Barrel Roll, Cuban Eight, Reverse Cuban Eight, Inverted Flight, and Slow Roll.   The team currently competes in both regional and national International Aerobatic Club (IAC) sponsored competitions throughout the year.  They are consistently contenders for collegiate and national championships, and earn IAC badges for individual achievement.

94th Flying Training Squadron – Cross-Country Soaring Team

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The Cadet Sailplane Racing Team, flies the TG-15A and TG-15B and competes in both regional and national Soaring Society of America (SSA) sponsored cross-country competitions.  After only a 2,000 foot tow above ground level (AGL), sorties can last as long as six hours and take these skilled aviators as far as 300 miles from the home airport.  They are consistently contenders for collegiate, state, and national records, and earn SSA Soaring badges for individual achievement.

U.S. Air Force Academy, USAFA, CO 80840, (719) 333-1110 DSN: 333-1110, 05 Dec 16
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