Since August 2000, the 107th Air Control Squadron has been in Arizona producing enlisted weapons directors that provide ground control for military aircraft, and June 8 they graduated their 500th student.
â€œI want to thank everyone for being here,â€ said Lt. Col. Lynda Lovell, 107th ACS commander. â€œToday isnâ€™t historical just because we had our 500th student, itâ€™s a bigger picture. Itâ€™s about the accomplishments of the 107th ACS, the total force team and the accomplishments of the weapons director career field.â€
The eight graduating students went through a 74-day course that is split into six blocks of training.
The first block focuses on safety and equipment specifics. This five-day section introduces what equipment the students will use during the course and how to safely use it.
During the second block the students learn basic control and how to talk to a simulated pilot. The third is more advanced with the Airmen learning aerial refueling operations.
â€œDuring our class we did close control, pointing a friendly at an enemy,â€ said Senior Airman Deron Arnold, 728th ACS, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. â€œI loved this class. Even though we are in a box controlling aircraft, it gets your blood pumping when they get into a fight in the air.â€
In the fourth and fifth blocks, students practice numerous high performance simulations talking directly with pilots.
They perform a large-force exercise requiring them to do close-air support, search and rescue, refueling, check-in, high-value-asset monitoring, and offensive and defensive counter air.
The final section is live training and is a huge part of the course. The students work hand-in-hand with student pilots as they go through their training.
After more than 10 years of training Airmen to be weapons directors, the 107th graduated its 500th weapons director, Senior Airman Terisha Vaughn, 728th ACS, Eglin AFB.
â€œIt was a surprise to me,â€ she said. â€œWe had been talking about it during the week thinking â€˜whoâ€™s going to be number 500,â€™ but itâ€™s a great honor. It took a lot of hard work to get here, and Iâ€™m proud to be 500.â€