Training A Viper Pilot

  • Feb 19, 2016 5:51am GMT

Luke Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located about 15 miles (24 km) west of Phoenix, Arizona. It is a major training base of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC), using 170 F-16 Fighting Falcons there. In 2011 it was announced that the F-35 Lightning II would replace the F-16 as the primary training aircraft at Luke and house a total of 144 F-35A Lightning IIs.

While the Lightnings arrive instructors continue to teach new students the entire spectrum of flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon in what is commonly referred to as the "B-course." Students get the basics of learning to fly the F-16 and how to "employ" it day or night and in all conditions. It also includes getting versed on the latest weapons in a total of 60 sorties that includes a transition phase, air-to-air phase and air-to-ground phase.

(see video below)

In air-to-air, students learn tactics, techniques and procedures to fight in the air against enemy aircraft. The air-to-ground phase focuses on using precision guided munitions on a close air support mission or in a dynamic targeting environment. The unit has 28 assigned instructors.

Luke Air Force Base was named after Second Lieutenant Frank Luke, a posthumous Medal of Honor recipient and the number two United States ace in World War I. (see photo below video) Born in Phoenix the "Arizona Balloon Buster" scored 18 aerial victories in the skies over France. Lieutenant Luke was shot down on 29 Sep 1918, after he had destroyed three enemy balloons. Surviving the crash in his Spad, Lieutenant Luke drew two pistols and fired on German soldiers, killing several of them before he was killed.

Video: dvidshub Feature video on what goes into training a fighter pilot to fly the F-16 during the F-16 "B-Course" or Basic Course at Luke Air Force Base, AZ. Two Luke AFB instructor pilots discuss the training and mindset that are involved with preparing a pilot to fly combat missions in a deployed environment or to perform other aerial combat missions.