AFMC Command News

Local 5th graders see the Raptor up-close

  • Published
  • By Laisa Leao
  • 412th Test Wing

In partnership with STARBASE, the 411th Flight Test Squadron hosted 35 students for an opportunity of a lifetime. They were to experience a flight simulator followed by a tour of the F-22 Raptor, the most advanced and sophisticated fighter jet in the world.

STARBASE is a 25-hour, five hours per weekday, instructional program for fifth grade students funded by the Department of Defense. It provides world class STEM instruction throughout the school year, and it is free of charge.

“At STARBASE Edwards, we provide students with the opportunity to visit military-civilian facilities, engage with STEM community leaders, and explore the STEM field in a fun and engaging way,” said Samantha Duchscherer, STARBASE Director.

The students were ecstatic as they entered the Raptor compound. The 411th FLTS's Maj. Brent Maggard and Capt. Jacob Anthony Fischer gave them a quick briefing before taking them to a state-of-the-art flight simulator. The students couldn’t help but think the simulator was a videogame as they climbed in and around the one-million-dollar cockpit to control the stick and throttles. With a helpful boost from a few pieces of foam, they were able to see the multitude of switches and displays and realized that flying was a lot more complex than expected. The students learned the first lesson of the day – it requires advanced knowledge of science, technology, and engineering to test the Raptor and complete the mission.

“It was awesome to show the students the simulator we use to execute F-22 test. While they looked around inside the cockpit, they came up with unique questions that most adults don’t think to ask during tours. They also got to see our control room where engineers and pilots rehearse the mission to stay safe and get the job done as a team,” said Maggard.

The students then walked in awe as they entered the flight line and saw the F-22 Raptor up-close. The fighter jet possesses a sophisticated sensor suite, which allows the pilot to track, identify, shoot and kill both air-to-air and air-to-ground threats before being detected. It can fly at twice the speed of sound, go up to 60,000 feet in altitude, and operate for two hours without refueling. It’s a single seat aircraft with four internal weapon bays – two at the bottom center plus one on each side.

“STARBASE Edwards not only uses a hands-on, minds-on approach to teaching students STEM, but it also focuses on giving students concrete knowledge about STEM careers and how to work towards them,” said Duchscherer.

The students asked many questions, from pilots running out of oxygen to the salary of entry-level pilots. They also had the opportunity to learn about Cyber Security from Katie White, Information Systems Security Officer, 411th FLTS, and how it plays a role in keeping vital information secured.

The field trip ended, and the students headed back to school but with a different perspective on aviation and avionics. For those with passion, talent and curiosity, that might have been a first step in an exciting and rewarding career.