SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Creating a pilot is not easy. Producing a pilot up to Air Force standards is even harder.
But imagine doing that as a FAIP after just completing the 80th Flying Training Wing’s 55-week Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program.
First Assignment Instructor Pilots, known as a “FAIP” in the pilot community, play an important role in the pilot training business. After completing undergraduate pilot training, a few select students go directly into pilot instructor training.
It is not uncommon to see a few FAIPs selected from every pilot training class. It may not be a student’s first choice when it comes to preferences, but this assignment takes a special person, and usually commander recommendation, to fulfill the important role of a FAIP.
“I’ve been around the UPT world for a long time, and FAIPs are the heart and soul that really makes the machine run to produce outstanding young pilots for all our NATO nations,” said Col. Robert Haas, 80th FTW commander. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
Though most students don’t see it this way at the time, it really is an honor to be selected as a FAIP.
ENJJPT United States Senior National Representative Lt. Col. Matthew Simmons said FAIPS are selected from the top half of the class.
“The student’s instructors believe not only that the student will graduate and can be successful in follow-in fighter training, but also that they can be successful in pilot instructor training and thrive as a UPT instructor,” he said.
Being a FAIP is very demanding duty, and not everyone can succeed at it, Simmons said.
“In the Combat Air Force, it can take a new fighter pilot several years to earn an instructor pilot qualification,” he said. “They must demonstrate mastery of their weapon system as a wingman before upgrading to flight lead. They must season and demonstrate instructor potential before being upgraded to instructor pilot. Often it isn’t until a fighter pilot’s second or third assignment until they are ready to upgrade to instructor, and many never do."
Without giving away too many commander secrets, there are many different aspects that come into play when it comes down to FAIP selection, including a combination of the commander’s ranking and aircraft preference.