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FAIPs heart and soul of ENJJPT pilot training

80th FTW pilots fly in formation over North Texas

First Assignment Instructor Pilots, or FAIPs, fly in formation over North Texas during the Spirit over Texoma mission to salute healthcare workers combating COVID-19 April 3, 2020. The 80th Flying Training Wing's Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program relies heavily on the young motivated pilots to keep the flying training machine running (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

Instructor pilot briefs student

1st Lt. Ralph Korpman goes over best practices with a student pilot before a sortie at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, June 1, 2020. Korpman, part of the 80th Flying Training Wing's Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program's First Assignment Instructor Pilot cadre, was named Air Education and Training Command's 2019 Instructor of the year. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Megan Morrissey)

First Assignment Instructor Pilots fly a training mission

First Assignment Instructor Pilots, or FAIPS are critical to the flying training mission here at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, and Air Education and Training Commands other pilot training wings. Often, being close in age to the students they are teaching, they gain vital flying and teaching experience. These instructor pilots are typically selected from the the top third of their undergraduate pilot training class. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

80th FTW pilot over North Texas

nstructor pilot Capt. Vyacheslav, Ulanovskiy of the 90th Flying Training Squadron takes a flight over North Texas as the sun begins to set. First Assignment Instructor Pilots, or FAIPS, are selected right after completing their undergraduate pilot training. They are selected for their operational air frame after instructing for 3 1/2 years. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

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.