WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Sheppard Air Force Base is celebrating 75 years of training airmen with an Open House and Air Show next month.
as part of the celebration Sheppard invited us to take an inside look at what airmen do on a daily basis. Suited up and ready to go Newschannel 6's Ava Van Valen takes to the sky with an instructor pilot from the 90th Flying Training Squadron.
High G turns and barrel rolls - it's all just another day in the life of Sheppard Air Force Base airmen. Not something the average person gets to experience. That's why when I was invited to take a ride on a T38 Talon I couldn't say no - despite my claustrophobia and fear of heights.
My instructor pilot Lt. Col. Alessandro Asaro is the Commander of the 90th Flying Training Squadron of the 80th Flying Training Wing. He says taking a civilian on a flight is a great way for the public to see what they do.
"It is something we do every once and a while to allow some visibility to what we do daily. There is so much we can show to the public and we would like the public to see but there is so little opportunity."
We were going on a mission, otherwise known as a sortie.
"What we did is exactly what we do with the students. We take 2 jets - we fly to a level and we simulate weaponries at a specific target."
After a four hour safety training where I learned what to do in an emergency and was fitted for flight gear - we were ready to go. The T38 is one of the jets used for flight training. It's a twin engine after-burning supersonic advanced jet trainer used to train pilot candidates for fighter and bomb type aircraft. I climbed into the cockpit behind Colonel Asaro - it sure certainly was snug. Next thing I knew it was time for take off!
"What we did today is we trained ourselves to formation low level flight. We did a formation take off all together. Then we departed into a low level route that we have over here available for military flight."
We flew at about 500 feet the majority of the time - a training Colonel Asaro says requires many sorties for training pilots because it's much more complex - you're closer to the ground there are more obstacles. Flying information can be nerve wracking for the civilian - the planes were at times only 3 feet apart but I had complete confidence in the pilots.
Needless to say the flight was amazing - the feeling is kind of hard to put into words. One thing I can express is that you couldn't be in better hands then those of a Sheppard Pilot.
"For a civilian flying in a military aircraft its quite an experience. It gives you those sensations and emotions and experience that no other aircraft would ever give you."