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TPS class 09A graduates

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, calif. -- The U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School class 09A graduated during a ceremony here Dec. 12.

Students receive a Master of Science in Flight Test Engineering upon completion of the course. Class 09A degree recipients consisted of one flight test weapons systems officer, eight flight test engineers including one from Spain and nine test pilots including one from Israel. Distinguished graduates are Israeli Air Force Maj. Shlomi Lachs and Kristofer Peterson, a U.S. Air Force civilian.

Two honorary graduates were named - Majors Lee Jones and Mark Graziano. The majors were involved in a T-38 accident May 22, in which Maj. Graziano was killed and Maj. Jones injured.

Maj. Graziano was training to be a flight test pilot and was the heart and soul of Class 09A. He was posthumously awarded the Onizuka Propwash Award, presented to the student who contributed the most to class spirit and moral during the 48-week program.

Maj. Jones was training to be an experimental flight test navigator when he was injured. He is rehabilitating and will complete the curriculum and receive a Master of Flight Test Engineering degree with a future class.

Each degree recipient has completed more than 2,500 hours of academics and approximately 120 hours of in-flight training - each student puts in about six hours a day of instructor contact time, not including academic and flight preparation time.

During the final six months of the year at TPS, students demonstrated knowledge of curriculum objectives through the planning and execution of test management projects. Class 09A's TMPs were:

Air Cyclops

Air Cyclops was a joint Air Force Institute of Technology and TPS project. The test team evaluated the concept of passive ranging to ground and air targets using an AFIT-developed optical thermal imaging camera. For the flight test, the camera faced out of the jump door of a C-12 and imaged the hot exhaust plume of an F-16. The test team included Capt. Joel Anderson as project manager and Flight Test engineer, Captains Brandon Abel and Kip Johnson as Test pilots, Maj. Mick Szczukowski as Flight Test Weapons Systems officer, and Capt. Ever Zavala as Flight Test engineer.


Have MURDOC was a joint AFIT and TPS project to demonstrate longitudinal flight control using a simple pitch rate feedback flight controller. A follow-on to a previous TPS project, the ultimate goal for this flight test was to determine the viability of flying a highly-augmented flight control system without the normally available air data. The results have potential benefits for improving the survivability of these high-dollar assets. The TPS flagship NF-16D VISTA was the host platform for this test. The test team included Maj. Donevan Rein as Project manager and Test pilot, Majors Lachs and Jeff Kennedy as Test pilots, and Capt. Derek Dwyer as Flight Test engineer.

Have Knots

The Have Knots project endeavored to finish the calibration and certification of a new Air Force Flight Test Center Pacer F-16D. The original objective was to evaluate the calibration of the trailing cone installation. But, as is often the case, various issues with the test asset forced a modification to the plan. The team was able to evaluate various methods of performing airborne calibration of the Pacer Air Data System using GPS-derived techniques. Their work could streamline future air data system calibrations of both Pacer aircraft and new air data system installations. The test team included Capt. John Casey as Project manager and Flight Test engineer, Navy Lt. Scott Johnson and Maj. Spencer Rasmussen as Test pilots, and Spanish Air Force Lt. Sami Abou-Kebeh Llano as Flight Test engineer.

Walker Ranger

Walker Ranger was another joint AFIT and TPS project to evaluate the performance of a Flash LADAR camera installed in one of the TPS avionics test pods carried on the F-16D. Due to technological challenges with the system under test, only a ground test was performed. However, the results were promising for future applications of this technology. The test team included Maj. Brian Deas as Project manager and Test pilot, Capt. Ryan Howland as Test pilot, with Captains Reid Larson and Sarah Helms, and Mr. Peterson Flight Test engineers.

Each degree recipient has been trained to lead members of a flight test team in the latest methods of flight testing, systems evaluation and test management, while instilling the cooperation and understanding between test team members necessary for successful flight test operations.

TPS graduates fulfill flight test community positions of responsibility. Air Force graduates follow-on assignments are frequently here at Edwards or Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.; Marine Corps and Navy graduates often report to China Lake, Calif., while international students are typically assigned to their country's primary flight test center.