|71st Flying Training Wing
|Active||1948; 1955–1957; 1962–1971; 1972–present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Size||About 1400 military and more than 1400 civilian employees|
|Part of||Air Education and Training Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Vance Air Force Base|
|Decorations||Air Force Outstanding Unit Award|
|Colonel Jay A. Johnson|
|Vice Commander||Colonel Charles Schuck|
|Command Chief Master Sergeant||CMSgt Kristy L. Earls|
|Lloyd W. Newton|
|71st Flying Training Wing emblem[note 1]|
|71st Flying Training Wing emblem[note 2]|
|Patch with 71st Surveillance Wing emblem[note 3]|
The 71st Flying Training Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to Air Education and Training Command. It is stationed at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma where has conducted pilot training for the Air Force and allied nations since 1972. It also is the host unit for Vance.
The wing was briefly activated as the 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Wing in 1948 but was operational for only a few weeks before being discontinued. During the Cold War, as the 71st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, it was a part of Strategic Air Command. The wing performed strategic reconnaissance and also tested a technique for launching small F-84K reconnaissance aircraft from GRB-36 bombers to extend the range of photographic reconnaissance and fighter escort. The testing ended in 1956, but the wing continued strategic reconnaissance until inactivated on 1 July 1957.
The wing was activated again in 1962 as the 71 Surveillance Wing. It operated and maintained systems to detect intercontinental ballistic missiles and sea-launched ballistic missile launches until it was inactivated in 1971. The wing was activated with its current mission a year later.
The 71st Flying Training Wing conducts Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training. Its mission is to develop professional United States and allied nation pilots who are combat ready. It is responsible for training Air Force and allied student pilots for worldwide deployment and Aerospace Expeditionary Force support.
Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training is conducted in three phases. Phase I is preflight, Phase II is Primary and is conducted with the Beechcraft T-6 Texan II. Phase III may be either fighter-bomber track, conducted with the Northrop T-38 Talon or tanker-airlift track, conducted with the Raytheon T-1 Jayhawk.
The wing was first activated at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa in August 1948 in the wing base reorganization of the United States Air Force, but was a viable entity for only a few days. Its tactical group was detached to the 32d Composite Wing and the wing had only one single reconnaissance squadron to perform photographic reconnaissance attached for its first week of existence. When the squadron was reassigned, the wing became non-operational and its manning was withdrawn. The wing was inactivated in late October.
The wing was reactivated at Larson Air Force Base, Washington as the 71st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. At Larson, it performed strategic reconnaissance and tested the FICON project to extend the range of photographic reconnaissance and fighter escort aircraft beginning in January 1955. FICON involved using an RF-84K, a version of the Republic RF-84F Thunderflash with a retractable "duck-bill" to enable it to be carried by a modified Convair B-36 Peacemaker to increase its range. The RF-84K was equipped with anhedral (downward-pointing) horizontal stabilizers to clear the bomb bay when in the stowed position.
The tests revealed that the "parasite" concept was achievable but not practical. Hook-ups with the GRB-36 were nearly impossible to achieve in turbulence and would likely be unworkable under combat conditions. In addition, ground clearance with the fighter mounted was around 6 inches when the RF-84K was equipped with external fuel tanks. The problem of drag was even worse. The stowed fighter reduced the range of the GRB-36 by five to ten percent.
In 1956 the entire FICON project was canceled, but the wing continued strategic reconnaissance until it was inactivated in 1957.
The wing was activated again at Ent Air Force Base, Colorado as the 71st Surveillance Wing. It operated and maintained the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, including sites in Alaska, Greenland, and England. It also operated the sea-launched ballistic missile detection and warning system and supported the USAF Spacetrack system, and monitored the over-the-horizon radar system, 1969–1971.
The wing was redesignated the 71st Flying Training Wing and replaced the 3575 Pilot Training Wing at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma in November 1972, assuming control of the undergraduate pilot training for USAF, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and allied countries there. In addition, it supported the Accelerated Co-Pilot Enrichment (ACE) program at numerous operating locations between 1978 and 1991. The wing provided initial flight training, and follow-on training for fighter, bomber and airlift/tanker aircraft crews for USAF, US Navy, Marine Corps and allied forces.