The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

December 9, 2011

Vance’s 71st Student will oversee all prospective base pilots

ENID — With a nod to the past and an eye on the future, Vance Air Force Base recently activated the 71st Student Squadron to oversee all prospective pilots at the base.

Lt. Col. George Truman took command of the new squadron, which has its roots in student squadrons in place at Vance in the 1960s and again from the 1970s until 1990, in a recent ceremony on base.

Command of the flying training operations at Vance thus has been transferred from the 71st Operations Support Squadron to the 71st STURON.

The 71st OSS also is responsible for airfield management, weather, the tower and radar approach control, among other functions.

“With the OSS commanders having, in general, so much on their plate and such a wide, diverse squadron, and the high volume of students, to me it makes sense to separate that from that commander and allow him to focus on the support of the operation, while someone else can focus on the administration of the students,” Truman said.

The 71st Student Squadron now will oversee all of the flying training squadrons at Vance — the 5th, the 8th, the 25th, the 32nd and the 33rd. Vance annually trains more than 400 student pilots in the T-6A Texan II, T-38C Talon and T-1A Jayhawk. However, the 71st STURON will focus on the administrative side of pilot training, rather than the flying side.

“They are pilot students and they are here, most of the time, to fly,” Truman said. “But they need care and feeding. From the time they in-process here at Vance to the time they in-process at their next base, they take leave, they get household goods, they have emergencies, they have personal issues, babies, weddings, all things that have nothing to do with flying that could detract from the mission on the flight line.

“The STURON is here now to help with those functions, separate from the operational flying side of their lives.”

Communication will be one of the key elements of the new 71st Student Squadron, Truman said. Squadron leaders are instructor pilots and will be involved with the students and their training on a daily basis, but they also can offer students a sounding board away from the flying side.

“What’s great about the job as it is now, we’re not at all constrained by the (flying training) syllabus,” Truman said. “We don’t have any of those constricting rules that apply to the personnel aspect of it. We can, to the best of our imagination and ability, take care of the students and do all those personal things we would want if we were in their shoes, and coordinate with the flying side to make it fit inside the syllabus.”

Since arriving at Vance in October 2009, Truman has served as assistant director of operations for the 25th Flying Training Squadron, deputy commander of 71st Operations Group and chief of wing plans and exercises for 71st Flying Training Wing.

“I love to fly, but I would rather be a leader in a squadron than a wingman in a fighter squadron,” he said. “The adage that timing is everything, and do the best job in your current job, certainly rings true to what happened to me here at Vance. I consider myself very fortunate to have been trusted by the leadership.”

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