557th Flying Training Squadron

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557th Flying Training Squadron
Cirrus T-53A in flight.png
A Cirrus T-53 of the 557th taking off
Active1942–1945; 1962–1970; 1974–present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
RoleFlying Training
Part ofAir Education and Training Command
Garrison/HQUnited States Air Force Academy
EngagementsEuropean Theater of Operations
Vietnam War[1]
DecorationsDistinguished Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm[1]
557th Flying Training Squadron emblem (approved 8 September 1975)[1]557th Flying Training Squadron.jpg
557th Bombardment Squadron emblem (approved 19 April 1943)[2]557 Bombardment Sq emblem.png

The 557th Flying Training Squadron is part of the 306th Flying Training Group based at United States Air Force Academy, Colorado, where it has conducted flight training for Academy cadets since 1974.

The first predecessor of the squadron was the 557th Bombardment Squadron, a Martin B-26 Marauder unit, which flew combat in the European Theater of Operations, earning a Distinguished Unit Citation in December 1944. It was inactivated after the end of World War II.

The squadron's second predecessor is the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron, which was organized in 1962, and flew in combat in the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1970, earning five Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat "V" Device. The two squadrons were consolidated into a single unit in September 1985.


It conducts powered flight training for Air Force Academy cadets.


World War II[edit]

387th Bombardment Group B-26 Marauder[note 1]

The squadron was activated as a Martin B-26 Marauder medium bombardment squadron in late 1942.[1] It trained under the Third Air Force and deployed to European Theater of Operations in July 1943, initially being stationed in England and assigned to the IX Bomber Command.

It engaged in tactical bombardment of enemy targets in Occupied Europe initially from stations in England, then after D-Day it was moved to Advanced Landing Grounds in France and Belgium, advancing eastward as Allied ground forces advanced. It supported Eighth Air Force strategic bombardment missions over Nazi Germany and Occupied Europe, striking enemy airfields to obtain maximum interference in Luftwaffe daytime interceptor attacks against heavy bomber formations returning to England. The squadron also participated in the Western Allied Invasion of Germany in March–April 1945, until the German surrender in May 1945.

The squadron became part of the United States Air Forces in Europe and demobilized personnel in 1945. It was reassigned to the United States as a paper unit, inactivated in November 1945.

Vietnam War[edit]

F-4C Phantom of the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron[note 2]

It was later reactivated in 1962[1] as one of the initial McDonnell F-4C Phantom II fighter squadrons when the aircraft was made operational by the Air Force. F-4Cs were not yet in production at that time. In order to get the squadron operational, second-line Republic F-84F Thunderstreaks were transferred from the Air National Guard. The squadron received Navy F4Hs (later F-4B) for training and then F-4Cs in January 1964. It was deployed to South Vietnam during the Vietnam War and flew combat missions, primary over North Vietnam[1] until Cam Ranh Air Base was closed in November 1970.

Flying training[edit]

A Diamond T-52A of the 557th at the USAF Academy taxis for a training flight

The squadron was reactivated at the United States Air Force Academy on 31 July 1974 as the 557th Flying Training Squadron to provide basic flight training for Air Force Academy cadets. The squadron was initially equipped with the Cessna T-41 Mescalero. Although the Mescalero, a military version of the Cessna 172, had served since 1968 as a screening aircraft for pilot training candidates, the high altitude of the Academy required models equipped with a more powerful 210 hp Continental engine. Although it was supplanted in this mission in 1995 by the Slingsby T-3 Firefly, the T-41Ds remained for flying team support and as a laboratory for aerodynamics and military sciences courses. The four remaining T41Ds support flying team operations and are used as an aerodynamics course laboratory.[3]

In addition to providing cadets with some initial flight instruction, the 557th FTS is also home to the USAFA Flying Team, the Air Force Academy's flying team, composed of 27 cadets selected for the team.[citation needed] The squadron began flying its current cadet trainer, the Cirrus T-53 in 2011,[1] and in September of the following year, the first cadet soloed in the T-53.[4]


557th Bombardment Squadron
  • Constituted as the 557th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 25 November 1942
Activated on 1 December 1942
Redesignated 557th Bombardment Squadron, Medium on 9 October 1944
Inactivated on 12 Nov 1945
Consolidated with the 557th Flying Training Squadron as the 557th Flying Training Squadron on 19 September 1985[1]
557th Flying Training Squadron
  • Constituted as the 557 Tactical Fighter Squadron and activated on 17 April 1962 (not organized)
Organized on 25 April 1962
Inactivated on 31 March 1970
  • Redesignated 557th Flying Training Squadron on 18 June 1974
Activated on 31 July 1974
Consolidated with the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 19 September 1985[1]






Explanatory notes
  1. ^ Aircraft is Martin B-26 Marauder, serial 42-96165.
  2. ^ Aircraft is McDonnell F-4C Phantom II, serial 63-7542. This aircraft survived the war and eventually was retired to Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center on 12 July 1988.
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Haulman, Daniel L. (March 28, 2017). "Factsheet 557 Flying Training Squadron (AETC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  2. ^ Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 658-659
  3. ^ a b "557 FTS Aircraft" (PDF). USAF Academy Public Affairs. August 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 16, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  4. ^ Reteneller, Maj Christopher. "Cadet 'slips the surly bonds of Earth' in historic 1st solo powered flight". Joint Base San Antonio Public Affairs. Retrieved October 23, 2018.
  5. ^ Assignment information in Haulman, except as noted.
  6. ^ a b Station number in Anderson.
  7. ^ a b c d e Station number in Johnson.
  8. ^ Station information in Haulman, except as noted.
  9. ^ Aircraft information in Haulman, except as noted.


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

Further reading
  • Mattorano, Gino (June 24, 2011). "Airmanship program receives new trainer". Academy Spirit. United States Air Force Academy: 1.
  • Reteneller, Maj Christopher (April 13, 2012). "New trainers take flight". Academy Spirit. United States Air Force Academy: 1.