Surrounded by colleagues, Lt. Col. Ian Bass, 5th Flying Training Squadron (5 FTS) Assistant director of operations and T-6 instructor pilot, received a congratulatory welcome after completing his flight and reaching an aviation milestone: 5,000 hours of flight time in a T-6 Texan II, on Aug. 30, 2022, at Vance Air Force Base (AFB), Okla.
As told by Jet Fabara, 340th Flying Training Group, in the article T-6 Pilot reaches aviation milestone: 5,000 Flying Hours, Bass is the first to accomplish that goal at the 5 FTS. According to figures provided to an Air Force publication, active-duty pilots in fiscal year 2021 averaged 10.1 hours per month, so Bass’ accomplishment is a feat not normally attained in the Air Force or Air Force Reserve in a short time.
“One cannot get this many hours in just a few years, in my case it took 17,” said Bass. “Being an Undergraduate Pilot Training instructor pilot is a demanding job, lots of long hours spent away from the family while we all try to do our best to graduate students. Luckily, I have a supportive family, but it is a delicate balancing act to not spend too much time in the squadron and away from home.”
The T-6A Texan II is a single-engine, two-seat primary trainer designed to train Joint Primary Pilot Training, or JPPT, students in basic flying skills common to US Air Force (USAF) and US Navy pilots.
Produced by Raytheon Aircraft, the T-6A Texan II is a military trainer version of Raytheon’s Beech/Pilatus PC-9 Mk II.
Stepped-tandem seating in the single cockpit places one crewmember in front of the other, with the student and instructor positions being interchangeable. A pilot may also fly the aircraft alone from the front seat. Pilots enter the T-6A cockpit through a side-opening, one-piece canopy that has demonstrated resistance to bird strikes at speeds up to 270 knots.
The aircraft is fully aerobatic and features a pressurized cockpit with an anti-G system, ejection seat and an advanced avionics package with sunlight-readable liquid crystal displays.
Bass mentioned that there’s more than one reason he’s enjoyed his assignment at the 5th FTS; one of those was being able to mentor and equip future pilots.
“The flying is the best part, but the next best thing is seeing a student that has been having trouble with certain aspects of pilot training start to get it and turn the corner in the program,” Bass said. “Once they do this and it all starts to become second nature to them, that is when I know that all the hard work in and out of the aircraft as well as the numerous tabletop discussions was worth it.”
In asking what got Bass interested in flying, he mentioned it all began with his Navy career.
“I was originally commissioned in the Navy and served just shy of nine years. Once I finished my commitment, the next set of orders would have taken me out of the cockpit and placed me as ship’s company on a disassociated sea tour,” added Bass. “I elected to transfer my commission to the Air Force and continue to serve and fly, here at Vance AFB.”
The 5 FTS falls under the 340th Flying Training Group (340 FTG) for administrative control and the US Air Force (USAF) 71st Flying Training Wing based at Vance AFB for operational control. It operates the T-1 Jayhawk, T-38B Talon, and T-6A Texan II aircraft conducting flight training in support of the 71st Operations Group.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force
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