Initial Flight Training

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DOSS Aviation Building
IFT Flightline, Diamond Aircraft

Initial Flight Training (IFT) is a preliminary flight training course for U.S. Air Force officers, to include active-duty Regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard, who have been selected for Pilot or Combat Systems Officer (CSO) training.[1][2] Attendance consists of both newly commissioned USAF officers (i.e., second lieutenants) and more senior commissioned USAF officers (e.g., first lieutenants or captains and, in very rare instances, majors) who previously served in non-rated non-flying assignments.

IFT replaced three earlier programs at separate locations, known as:

  • Pilot Indoctrination Program (PIP), Initial Flight Training (IFT) or Academy Flight Training (AFT) for USAF Academy cadets, said program being conducted by military and civilian instructors at the USAF Academy Airfield;[3][4]
  • Flight Indoctrination Program (FIP) for college/university Air Force ROTC cadets, said program being conducted by contracted civilian flight instructors at nearby civilian airports adjacent to those academic institutions, and;
  • Flight Screening Program Officer Training (FSPOT) at Hondo Municipal Airport, Texas for USAF Officer Training School graduates

All three programs were originally for pilot candidates only, versus the current pilots and navigators-cum-CSOs, and only applied to pilot candidates who did not already hold at least an FAA Private Pilot Certificate. These programs were consolidated into the single current program, a civilian contractor operation under direct USAF auspices and oversight of the 12th Flying Training Wing (12 FTW) at Randolph AFB, Texas, and its subordinate 306th Flying Training Group (306 FTG) at the USAF Academy, Colorado. IFT is conducted at Pueblo Memorial Airport, Colorado and has the greatest similarity to the former FSPOT employed for OTS graduates, since it is conducted at a single site and all students are already commissioned USAF officers.

IFT students must be undergraduate flying training (UFT) candidates and be medically qualified with a Federal Aviation Administration Class III airman medical certificate and a USAF Flying Class 1 or 1A flight physical, as appropriate. The IFT curriculum is highly structured and very fast paced.[5]

The IFT program is under the direct cognizance of U.S. Air Force's 306th Flying Training Group (306 FTG) of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC), and began operations on 1 October 2006. Doss Aviation, under contract with United States Air Force (USAF), conducts flight screening for 1,300 to 1,700 USAF officers annually. As the gateway to USAF aviation, IFT provides initial flying training allowing students to successfully transition to Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT), Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT), Undergraduate Helicopter Pilot Training (UHT), and Undergraduate Combat Systems Officer Training (UCSOT) at one of several air force bases, naval air stations, and one army air field throughout the United States. The 45-acre (180,000 m2) IFT campus is located immediately adjacent to the Pueblo Memorial Airport, Pueblo, Colorado.[6]

Students are paired up into hotel-style rooms. They share a bathroom, and are provided a desk and dresser for their personal belongings. A single building encompasses all the facilities the students need; students never need to step outside the facility except to access their aircraft. The large building houses the gym, which includes a workout gym with volleyball and basketball courts, weightlifting equipment and treadmills, as well as a cafeteria and a small communal room known as the Tiger Den. A large auditorium is used during the first week of training to teach students the basics of aviation. A second floor houses all the classrooms where students study and meet with their instructor pilots before performing their graded flights.[7]

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