Supporting PACAF, Part 1: Keeping Veteran Pilots in the Air

More so than any barbecue, parade or fireworks show, Independence Day is a celebration of our nation’s history. Our patriotic pride is on full display as we enjoy the many freedoms our country—and those who defend it—provide.

At Chenega Federal Systems (CFS), we are committed to doing our part to support our government and our veterans, at home, abroad and in the air.

Our support of the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), a Major Command of the U.S. Air Force, allows us to work closely with our military veterans and former Air Force instructor pilots, helping our service men and women transition from their careers in the military to a new, yet familiar, workplace.

In the first of a two-part series, we asked several of our current instructor pilots to share their thoughts on their roles with PACAF, their experiences in the military, and how those two missions work together.

Interested in joining our team? Contact us to learn more about our immediate openings for instructor pilots around the globe.

 

Eugene “Doc” Dougherty, A-10C Lead Contract Instructor Pilot
Osan Air Base, Pyeongtaek, South Korea

“It’s incredibly rewarding work, being able to pass on my knowledge to our current Hawg drivers.”

As Osan’s Lead Contract Instructor Pilot for the A-10C Mission Training Center (MTC), I’m responsible for instructing the pilots, coordinating daily schedules and assignments, building tactical and SEPT scenarios, and training new instructors. We’re currently in a state of ceasefire on the Korean Peninsula, so training has a little more emphasis here than stateside. Our motto is, “Ready to Fight Tonight”—we have to be ready for anything.

It’s incredibly rewarding work, being able to pass on my knowledge to our current Hawg drivers. Osan is a “young” unit, with many lieutenants arriving fresh from Formal Training Unit. I get the chance to mold these new pilots, helping them build good habits and maybe adding different techniques to their bag of tricks. With more than 17 years actively flying the A-10 and six years running the A-10C MTC at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, I enjoy sharing my experience with the next generation.

 

Barry “Yak” Luff, F-15C Lead Contract Instructor Pilot
Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan

“You come to work, prep for the mission, brief, fly, debrief, write a grade sheet, then go home. It’s a great gig.”

CIPs at Kadena teach from the cockpit or the console, depending on the mission. On any given day, we might teach an Instrument Refresher Course, fly cockpits in support of USAF training, mission plan to develop scenarios, or publish the simulator schedule. It’s a lot like being an instructor pilot in an ops squadron: We attend WATTs as applicable to simulator missions, manufacturer road shows when new equipment is fielded, and IP/syllabus meetings. The difference, of course, is that our days are contractually limited to eight hours, so it’s a little easier than being an active-duty fast jet pilot.

For me, the perfect day is when you’re scheduled for an MQT mission as the IP of Record: You come to work, prep for the mission, brief, fly, debrief, write a grade sheet, then go home. It’s a great gig, and I still get to contribute a small part to building the proficiency of our pilots. Plus, Okinawa is not a bad station. I haven’t scraped ice or shoveled snow in more than 10 years, and I don’t miss it one bit.

 

James Sage, F-22 Lead Simulator Instructor Pilot
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Honolulu, Hawaii

“Instructing in the simulator, I get to watch pilots improve their skills over time.”

I’m primarily responsible for daily instruction in the F-22 simulator, which includes sitting console for different simulator events, and flying the simulator cockpit to provide a flight lead or wingman platform for the simulator training events. The simulator provides a unique opportunity to hold a dress rehearsal for many different real-world combat missions, enabling the pilot to fly a specific mission anywhere in the world and learn valuable lessons and experience.

I love teaching F-22 systems and tactics. Since the addition of the simulator, I’ve seen a drastic improvement in our pilots’ overall squadron combat capability. Instructing in the simulator, I get to watch pilots improve their skills over time; each day, they get better and better at handling emergencies and different tactical situations.

 

Richard “Pitot” Utecht, F-16 Contract Instructor Pilot
Kunsan Air Base, Gunsan, South Korea

“That’s been one of the best things about my job: Chenega has gone out of its way to meet the wants and needs of my family and me.”

I work as a temporary backfill when need arises at our training locations, mainly at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea. I absolutely love instructor work, and after previously serving as a commander and instructor pilot, I’m able to relate to the challenges our pilots face in operating a sophisticated weapons system in a volatile, uncertain and complex environment.

I’m available as often as I can be, but after serving full time for two years in Korea, I’ve been spending more time at home in Arkansas. That’s been one of the best things about my job: Chenega has gone out of its way to meet the wants and needs of my family and me.

 

John Wilson, F-22 Simulator Instructor Pilot
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Honolulu, Hawaii

“Let’s be frank, serving as an F-22 instructor in Hawaii isn’t a hardship detail: cool jet, superb location, and a laid-back team.”

As an F-22 simulator instructor, my daily activities aren’t much different than life in an operational fighter squadron (with better hours). I develop and run tactical scenarios, mission plan, brief and debrief as required. I also study -1, -34 and AFTTPs to maintain my qualification as an F-22 subject matter expert. It’s a challenging and rewarding job, to be credible and relevant in current tactics and weapons systems employment.

Let’s be frank, serving as an F-22 instructor in Hawaii isn’t a hardship detail: cool jet, superb location, and a laid-back team. Working with the Hawaiian Raptors, I get to build scenarios to prepare them for deployments, hone their lethality, and test their general knowledge and adherence to standards. I strive to help make them better pilots, and I’m honored that they’ve wholeheartedly accepted my wife and me into the Hawaiian Raptor family.