80th FTW aviators get close-up view of combat aircraft

Combat Air Force Day 2018

James Smith, M1 Services transit alert contractor, marshals in an F-22 Raptor at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, May 10, 2018. The Raptor arrived as part of the 80th Flying Training Wing's Combat Air Force Career Day, an event that lets student pilots in the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program to see combat aircraft they could one day pilot. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

Combat Air Force Day 2018

Staff Sgt. Christian Harknett, 82nd Security Forces Squadron installation entry controller, writes down the names of 80th Flying Training Wing Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program students who want to go inside a restricted area to get a closer look at an F-22 Raptor at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, May 10, 2018. The Raptor was part of the 80th FTW's two-day Combat Air Force Career Day that brought the Raptor as well as F-15E Strike Eagles and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs to the base so students could not only see the operational aircraft, but also receive mission capability briefings from the pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

Combat Air Force Day 2018

Second Lt. Shawn Wortham, right, talks to Capt. Brendan Torphy, an F-22 Raptor pilot from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., about the capbilities of the fifth-generation fighter at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, May 10, 2018. The 80th Flying Training Wing hosted a two-day event called Combat Air Force Career Day to give American student pilots in the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program an opportunity to get a closer look at aircraft they could one day pilot. Wortham, a native of Woodstock, Ga., is a member of ENJJPT class 19-01. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

Combat Air Force Day 2018

Capt. Brandon Torphy, an F-22 Raptor pilot from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., talks to student pilots from the 80th Flying Training Wing's Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program after arriving at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, May 10, 2018. Torphy and the F-22 were part of Combat Air Force Career Day, an opportunity for Air Force students in the ENJJPT program to get an up-close look at combat aircraft they could one day be piloting. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

Combat Air Force Day 2018

A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., arrive at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, May 11, 2018. The aircraft and pilots were part of the 80th Flying Training Wing's Combat Air Force Career Day, which gave Air Force student pilots in the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program an opportunity to see the combat aircraft up close (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

Combat Air Force Day 2018

An F-15E Strike Eagle soars through the skies of North Texas as a flock of birds share the nearby airspace above Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, May 11, 2018. Two Strike Eagles from Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., and four A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., were part of Combat Air Force Career Day hosted by the 80th Flying Training Wing. CAF Day gives Air Force student pilots in the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program the opportunity to get an up-close look at combat aircraft they could one day fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

Combat Air Force Day 2018

F-15E Strike Eagles from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., taxi to waiting M1 Services contractors at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, May 11, 2018. The Strike Eagles were part of Combat Air Force Career Day host by the 80th Flying Training Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Undergraduate pilot training students in the 80th Flying Training Wing’s Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program spend more than a year learning how to fly aircraft for more than a year, all in anticipation of becoming combat pilots.

Combat Air Force Day 2018
Second Lt. Shawn Wortham, right, talks to Capt. Brendan Torphy, an F-22 Raptor pilot from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., about the capbilities of the fifth-generation fighter at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, May 10, 2018. The 80th Flying Training Wing hosted a two-day event called Combat Air Force Career Day to give American student pilots in the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program an opportunity to get a closer look at aircraft they could one day pilot. Wortham, a native of Woodstock, Ga., is a member of ENJJPT class 19-01. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)
Combat Air Force Day 2018
Combat Air Force Day 2018
Second Lt. Shawn Wortham, right, talks to Capt. Brendan Torphy, an F-22 Raptor pilot from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., about the capbilities of the fifth-generation fighter at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, May 10, 2018. The 80th Flying Training Wing hosted a two-day event called Combat Air Force Career Day to give American student pilots in the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program an opportunity to get a closer look at aircraft they could one day pilot. Wortham, a native of Woodstock, Ga., is a member of ENJJPT class 19-01. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)
Rarely do they see an operational combat aircraft – fighter or bomber – until they graduate, but an opportunity arose May 11, 2018, during Combat Air Force Career Day at Sheppard AFB.

German air force Col. Bernhard Hey, 80th Operations Group commander, said while having dreams and goals of flying is one thing, reaching out and touching the aircraft is something different.

“The CAF Day not only represented ENJJPT students with a chance to look at the aircraft they would like to fly, but also gave them the opportunity to interact with the aircrews that flew the aircraft in,” he said.

While not every combat aircraft if the Air Force inventory made an appearance, students were able to get an up close view of an F-22 Raptor, an AT-38, two F-15E Strike Eagles and four A-10 Thunderbolt IIs. Hey said students gained insight into each airframe’s mission as well as the technology, demands and expectations fighter units have of new pilots.

In addition to the up-close view, students also received briefings from pilots on the capabilities of each aircraft.

“These insights are absolutely vital when making career decisions for the young aviators,” he said.

CAF Day was a common occurrence a few years ago before budget cuts and sequestration resulted in the Air Force cutting costs, including postponing air shows and other events. Now that the defense budget has reversed course, the 80th FTW was able to bring back the event that drew aviator and aircraft closer.