The first new Lebanese Air Force A-29 Super Tucano trainee pilot started live flying with the 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody AFB, Georgia, on 22 March.
“It was his first flight in the aircraft so it was a great [opportunity] for him to get oriented in the A-29 and how it flies,” said the 81st FS instructor pilot who conducted the first flight. “[Since training began] this was the first opportunity that we’ve had to get the first Lebanese [pilot] airborne. They’ve been doing ground training, learning the procedures, patterns, simulator and emergency procedures.”
With the first flight completed and logged, the 81st FS moves one-step closer to the programs, end goal which emulates the Afghan pilot training at the same base. These pilots and maintainers will be armed with the light air support capabilities they need to defend their country from terrorism and combat common enemies.
“We’ve got one student with one flight under his belt but it’s a small victory for us,” said Lt Col Ryan Hill, 81st FS commander. “The end state is that we’re going to have 12 trained Lebanese pilots. These guys will be fully-trained operational combat pilots in the A-29 aircraft. The ultimate goal is for them to fight ISIS on their eastern border.”
After completing the program, 12 pilots and approximately 20 maintainers will also be able to stand up their own fully functional A-29 squadron and be able to continue operations on their own in Lebanon.