Hometown Pride Tour: ENJJPT and their 35th anniversary - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Hometown Pride Tour: ENJJPT and their 35th anniversary

Source: KAUZ Source: KAUZ

We conclude our Hometown Pride Tour at Sheppard Air Force Base highlighting the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot training program, also known as ENJJPT, and their 35th anniversary. 
Thirteen different countries send instructor pilots and students into the program.
It was created in 1981 and resides in the 80th Flying Training Wing.
Only the cream of the crop make it out, resulting in some of the top fighter jet pilots in the world.
Not many survive ENJJPT because of their high standard.
    "Unfortunately there are times that students don't make it through the program, Trevor Aldridge, Instructor of the 80th Flying Training Wing, said. "It's a tough call to make as an instructor sometimes. But we hold the standard because we know that when they are going to combat and have an aircraft locked up or have to drop a bomb, they are going to be shooting down the right guy or dropping a bomb on the right target. And we can't sacrifice our standards for that."
That's what makes the training course so successful.
But what exactly is ENJJPT and what makes it unique?
    "A lot of NATO countries got together and discussed how they could start pilot training and do it in a cheaper and more effective way," Instructor Aldridge said. "And they decided to get their resources together and initially wanted to start it in Wichita Falls at Sheppard Air Force Base as a trial before they moved back to Europe, where most of the partner nations are from. But due to the support of the local community, they wound up staying for 35 years thankfully for us here in Wichita Falls."
Students come in with approximately 15 to 20 hours of training in a civilian aircraft.
They learn how to fly off the instruments in T-6's along with proper tactical formation.
After 100 hours, students move on to the T-38's, a more powerful plane.
If selected to fly fighter aircrafts, trainee's take Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals at the 88th Fighter Training Wing.
Instructor Aldridge said that class is what can take you to the level needed to succeed.
    "We teach them the basics on how to be a fighter pilot," instructor Aldridge said. "Not only in the demeanor, the brief and the de-brief, but as far as flying goes, we teach them how to dog fight, what we call the basics of fighting maneuvers. We go to Lawton where there's a range and teach them how to drop bombs."
Gregory Keeton, 80th Flying Training Wing Commander, said the program does not just train students.
    "We also train our own instructor pilots," Commander Keeton said. "So all of the partners that send instructors, they go through a training course here and then we utilize them in the program."
In it's 35th year of training at Sheppard, it has delivered more than 7,000 trained combat pilots to our Nato allies.
Many of whom are the best of the best.
    "Many of the top leaders from foreign countries have been graduates of ENJJPT," Instructor Aldridge said.
As for the United States, Aldridge said the highest ranking officer currently in the United States Air Force went through their pilot training and stayed as an instructor on his first assignment.
Commander Keeton believes the partnership is important for all countries.
    "Were more than just a pilot training program," Commander Keeton said. "Were a program that strengthens the partnership between our individual countries that you really can't put a dollar cost on."
35 years later, Instructor Aldridge does not see ENJJPT going away anytime soon and believes it has prepared many.
    "It is a testament to how dedicated everyone is to make sure were ready to go to war if the flag goes up," Instructor Aldridge said.
Instructor Aldridge said that when countries decide who to send for training, they select who they think will make the best fighter pilots because ENJJPT and Sheppard produce more fighter pilots than any base.
Instructor Aldridge also said another thing that makes ENJJPT unique is that when a decision needs to be made, every country has a vote and it has to be unanimous for the change to be approved.

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