USAF Test Pilot School and Finnish Air Force Demonstrate Historic First Upon Accession with NATO

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  • By 412th Test Wing Public Affairs

The U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB made another historic first. On April 4, Finland officially became the 31st member to join NATO on the 74th anniversary of the signing of the Washington Treaty. Coincidentally, TPS became the first Air Force organization to fly a joint-test mission as part of a technical exchange between the U.S. Air Force and the Finnish Air Force. Finland became a NATO partner nation only minutes before this joint endeavor.

For the first flight operation in this unification, TPS Class 23A students Capt. Sami Nisonen of the Finnish Air Force and Capt. Jacob Olsen of the U.S. Air Force flew a T-38 Talon student crew solo aircraft together as part of an Edwards AFB joint endeavor. 

"While only a short routine T-38 flight by two TPS students, the symbolism is significant now that Finland is a member of NATO,” Mr. David Vanhoy, Technical Director of TPS, said. “This is just the first of many future joint endeavors between the U.S. and our NATO ally, Finland."

Hosting foreign exchange students at TPS allows for enhanced deterrence and mission readiness on a global scale. As part of this consequential partnership, the two TPS students worked together to meet the objectives of an assigned performance phase test plan. Nisonen and Olsen demonstrated teamwork essential for joint operations. While sharing both flight experiences and cultural traditions, the goal of the exchange was to make the students more well-rounded flight test professionals by exposure to different aircraft, test centers and test facilities.

As a result of this U.S.-Finland exchange, this crucial unification and collaboration strengthens mission readiness with U.S. Air Force’s key allies while also enhancing Edward’s test mission for the warfighter.