Academy airfield strengthened by Total Force Airmen
(U.S. Air Force photo/Trevor Cokley)
By Jennifer Spradlin, Dec. 14, 2018
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Colorado National Guardsman recently joined Air Force Reservists working alongside active duty Airmen to execute the Airmanship program here.
For the first time, six Guardsmen will support the 557th Flying Training Squadron as it revives the solo flight curriculum in its powered flight program in January.
Lt. Col. Jachin Finch, an Air Force Academy graduate who served 16 years in the active force before joining the Guard in 2016, is excited to see his career come full circle.
“This is super special to me. It’s hard to put into words,” he said. “Just being close to the cadets, who are so excited to learn and to fly airplanes – we joke as long as we’re interacting with cadets we’ll stay young forever.”
Throughout his career, Finch flew the C-21 Learjet, C-17 Globemaster III and C-32 Air Force Two. He said the opportunity to be part of the solo flight curriculum is rewarding.
“Soloing in flight training is everything, a huge confidence builder. You may think you’re ready, that you have everything memorized and those skills nailed, but when you’re the only one in the airplane, that’s when you really know,” he said.
The 70th Flying Training Squadron supports the active duty elements of the 306th Flying Training Group and their mission to train, motivate, and inspire future Air Force leaders in rated careers.
The 70th FTS Airmen train cadets and inbound staff in advanced flight programs that would be difficult to run without their continuity and expertise. For example, they maintain more than 40 training certifications related to gliding.
Maj. Chris Rothe, a C-130 pilot and instructor in the soaring program, said the Total Force Integration at the airfield is so seamless that many cadets don’t realize he is a Reservist. However, he is happy to educate them about the different ways to manage their careers.
“I think it’s important for them to understand how TFI works,” he said.
Rothe is a career Reservist and civilian airline pilot with multiple deployments. A father of four, the stability for his family has been crucial to his ability to serve.
“[The cadets] can serve 10, 14 or 16 years and then transition without getting out of the Air Force completely. There’s so many opportunities, especially here in Colorado Springs, to serve in other capacities,” he said.
Rothe is in his fourth year with the 70th FTS. He started flying gliders when he was 13.
“My job is to show cadets that flying is awesome. Some of the cadets that we fly with have never considered a [rated career] until they come to that freshman four-ride profile,” he said. “We fly around and talk about their career and their families and what they’d like to do and by the time we land, 99 percent of the time, they have had a great time, and they want to do it again.”