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Flying team builds character through dynamic competition

by Ashley D. Murphy, Strategic Communications

The Air Force Academy Precision Flying Team exists to create officers and pilots of character through flying training and competition at the national level. This highly select team of 28 cadets competes in multiple National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA) competitions throughout the year, flying either a T-51 or T-41 aircraft. This dynamic training and competition helps prepare them for the rigors of active-duty military aviation.

“The USAFA Precision Flying Team is a unique program that allows cadets who make the team to train and fly in a way that prepares them extremely well for pilot training and for their careers as Air Force officers,” said Captain Ryan Erickson, Precision Flying Team Flight Commander. “Additionally, the ability to train in an environment that closely resembles both an Air Force flying squadron and an Undergraduate Pilot Training environment uniquely prepares them for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead post-graduation and commissioning.”

The Precision Flying Team is not only skilled in preparation, but is also successful in competitions. The team has won the regional competition 33 years in a row and most recently finished fifth at the national level.

“Flying team cadets are not very different from the many other cadets who seek out and pursue an additional opportunity to excel” said Gilbert Boyce, who has been a coach for the flying team for 22 years. “These cadets are selected on a ‘whole person’ concept. We expect them to be outstanding cadets first, aviators second. Even though we only select nine cadets per class, cadets on the flying team generally hold a disproportionate number of leadership positions in the Cadet Wing.”

The selection process takes place during freshman year and includes cadets overall performance, aviation knowledge tests scores, an essay, an interview, a graded flight simulator session, and a graded flight. To be selected cadets must also have their FAA Private Pilot License.

“We always say cadets at the Academy won’t settle for only being good at one thing … our flying team exemplifies that message in everything they do,” said Capt Erickson.

To learn more about the airmanship opportunities available to U.S. Air Force Academy cadets.