U.S. Air Force Graduates First Class of XPW Pilots

 - March 29, 2021, 10:38 AM
The Jayhawk—such as this 99th FTS example—is the U.S. Air Force’s primary multi-engine trainer. Under the traditional UPT program students destined for multi-engined types fly the single-engined T-6 basic trainer before progressing to the Jayhawk. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)

The U.S. Air Force has graduated the first class of seven pilots to complete its innovative new “Accelerated Path to Wings” (XPW) program. The first pilots graduated on March 12, and their new assignments include flying the C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, and the KC-135 Stratotanker from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.

Many air forces are finding it hard to get new pilots into front-line cockpits quickly enough to meet their requirements, and the XPW course is part of Air Education and Training Command’s ongoing pilot training transformation effort. Traditional UPT (Undergraduate Pilot Training) consists of a three-phase program that graduates pilots in 12 months. The XPW program consists of two phases and graduates student pilots in just seven months.

Pilots arrive at the 12th Flying Training Wing at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, for the XPW course having completed their initial flight training or with a private pilot’s license. The first phase in XPW includes academics and then simulator training with the 12th Training Squadron, after which they are certified as proficient in the aircraft. Students then proceed to the 99th Flight Training Squadron to fly the Beechcraft T-1 Jayhawk, skipping the traditional basic flying training phase altogether, and missing out on flying the T-6 Texan II.

“This is a great program for students who want to go fly heavy aircraft in Air Mobility Command, or who want to go fly certain aircraft in special operations or in Air Combat Command," said Lt. Col. Eric Peterson, commander of the 99th Flying Training Squadron.

Guest speaker at the graduation ceremony, Col. Robert Moschella, commander of the 12th Operations Group, added, “The XPW program is a great way to capitalize on T-1 capacity to produce high-quality pilots for the Air Force. These students had a great attitude throughout the program and showed an unrelenting willingness to learn and earn their wings.”