174th Fighter Wing members training to becoming certified instructors

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Greta Lewis
  • 174th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Wing senior leadership, unit members, family and friends were on hand to watch as 12 Airmen graduated from the unit's first Basic Instructor's Course on the 6th of February 2009.

Air Education and Training Command sent Tech. Sgt. Ezekiel Jiminez to Hancock Field Air National Guard Base to teach a 5-week basic course that qualifies Airmen to become instructors. Jiminez presented the graduates to Col. Bradley during a ceremony that took place in the Hancock Field Wing Conference Room. The BIC is the first step toward becoming Field Training Detachment instructors

Lt. Col. John Balbierer, 174th Maintenance Group Commander, presented the class with the graduation certificates. The class consisted of 12 Airmen, varying in rank from Staff Sergeant to Senior Master Sergeant, and the top three students qualified and tied for the spot of Honor Graduate.

Col. Bradley said the 174th is constantly using smart operations concepts to streamline existing processes. Instead of sending 12 Airmen on temporary duty assignments to technical training schools, we were able to bring one certified instructor to the base to teach the students, saving money for the U.S. Air Force and the Air National Guard.

With the need for so many people from the unit to go through the course, and normal channels allowing placement of only one to two at a time, the 174th sought the most cost-effective way to get all twelve instructors trained in as short an amount of time as possible. The request was made to AETC, who consented to sending one instructor to teach the class on-site. This method was not only cost-effective, but also allows the timeline of the new mission to move forward.

Lt. Col. Balbierer said, "I'm very proud of the people that have decided to step out of their comfort zones to take on positions that will set us up as one of the premier training facilities. Not only will they train Air National Guard members, but also Active Duty, the Reserve Component, and our foreign allies on the MQ-9 Reaper maintenance."

There are multiple phases that need to be completed before these Airmen will become fully-qualified instructors in their chosen fields, and are currently in the second phase which lasts one week.

When asked how he felt about completing the course, Senior Master Sgt. Timothy Campbell, the class leader said, "I think it's awesome. It's the first of many steps you have to complete before you can move on to be an accredited instructor."

The 174th Fighter Wing is currently transitioning from flying the F-16 Falcon fighter jet to flying the MQ-9 Reaper. The transition officially began October 1, 2008 and is expected to last approximately 18 months. This transition will mark the sixth air frame for the unit.

The Reaper is an unmanned aerial vehicle, capable of gathering intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. It is also capable of making attacks in a hunter-killer mode. And since the MQ-9 Reaper is controlled remotely, it has the added benefit of keeping the pilots and operators out of harm's way.

The 174th FW was formed on October 28, 1947 as the 138th Fighter Squadron. The 138th FS was the first post-WWII Air National Guard flying unit in New York State. The unit flew P-47D Thunderbolts and was based at the former Army Air Force facilities at Hancock Field.