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Air Force Cadets Learn From The Best
by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Malcolm Mayfield
August 12, 2018

U.S. Air Force Academy cadets were given a glimpse into the inner workings of the 48th Fighter Wing during a two-week 2018 summer program in June at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England.

The program “Operation Air Force,” embeds aspiring military leaders into the current operations of a military installation. The experience shows them just how important each aspect of an organization is to the mission of the base.

During the visit, six cadets were educated on the mission of the 48th Fighter Wing as they toured various units and an understanding of how they all fit together.

A 493rd Fighter Squadron pilot examines his F-15D Eagle with U.S. Air Force Academy cadet Christen Dahl prior to her familiarization flight at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England on June 13, 2018. U.S. Air Force Academy cadets visiting as part of “Operation Air Force,” were paired with a pilot from the 493rd FS and learned about their daily operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Malcolm Mayfield)

“It’s awesome to see all of the inner workings and what goes into operations to feed into this one mission,” U.S. Air Force Academy cadet Christen Dahl said.

The cadets were imbedded in multiple agencies on base including; the 48th Medical Group, the 48th Component Maintenance Squadron Propulsion Shop and the 493rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit.

The immersion gave each cadet an exclusive opportunity to get involved with the daily operations of the career field they’re presently pursuing.

“Ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be a pilot,” Air Force cadet Michael DeFazio said. “My father was a Strike Eagle Weapon Systems Officer here, and I was born here. I grew up around this community and I’ve always wanted to be a part of it.”

Each cadet was later paired up with a pilot, and were provided a familiarization flight hosted by the 493rd Fighter Squadron.

U.S. Air Force Academy cadet Christen Dahl takes off in an F-15D Eagle for her familiarization flight with the 493rd Fighter Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England on June 13, 2018. The program “Operation Air Force,” sends cadets all over the world as a way to get a feel of active duty life. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Malcolm Mayfield)

“We’re happy they’re here and we love supporting this program,” a 493rd Fighter Squadron pilot said. “Coming from the academy and viewing the Ops life style puts everything into perspective; what you’re learning, why you’re learning it and where it really matters. So much is influenced just at the base level to get the final product out there.”

Sculpting future leaders is an integral part of the Air Force’s foundation. Operation Air Force serves as a fundamental cornerstone in that foundation as it continues to show cadets what is expected of them and what it truly means to be an officer in the U.S. military.

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