IKMSR - F, C, R -> Freedom!

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. David Eichhorn
  • nttnntrw
We graduated another Air Force Test Pilot School class June 13.

Class 08B, picked Lt. Col. Pete Everest as their distinguished alumni and asked Col. (ret) Frank Borman to be their guest speaker. Both really great choices!

Lt. Gen. Allen Peck, the Air University Commander, joined us and did the honors "by the powers granted him by Congress" in awarding the class a masters degree in Flight Test Engineering! The fifth such award we've made (three during graduation and two retroactive). Fantastic!

Then General Peck recognized Colonel Borman. He told us of Colonel Borman's space exploits, such as how his crew was the first to orbit a celestial body other than Earth (the moon). Can you imagine the thrill and the stress of the first multiple orbits of the moon made by his crew and being the first in history to view "earth rises?" General Peck and Dr. Bruce Murphy, AU chief academic officer, presented an honorary degree to Colonel Borman. Awesome!

Colonel Borman, as the guest speaker, then spoke to the class about what's really important. He started with Integrity! You have to call it like it is with the intention of serving the greater purpose, which in the early days of flight test, was about saving lives. Today, I'd argue it's equally about saving money. Think about it; getting more bang for the buck means more can be bought for the same amount. That also saves lives by ensuring as much of the proper equipment, as is possible, is bought.

Then Colonel Borman spoke of Knowledge. You can have all the integrity in the world, but if you don't have the knowledge (i.e. you don't know what you're talking about) you're not credible. This leads to wasting people's time and distracting them from going after the things that really matter. Getting a masters degree from the world's premier flight test school certainly shows we've provided the base for knowledge, and we don't distract.

Next, he spoke of Mission. Mission is what supplies the focus to our efforts. There's only so much time in the day and scattered efforts dilute if not completely derail progress on what's important. If it's important it's worthy of Sacrifice, which was Colonel Borman's fourth point. While the best things in life may be free, the people who keep them free have had to sacrifice. They lived service before self for the greater and the long-term good.

As with all service, there is Risk -- Colonel Borman's last point. To the military, it's literally life and death. But in flight test, we've all seen these last three months, it takes all of us, civilian as well as military, to keep us safe to fly another day. No pain - no gain! No risk - no reward! There will be days such as we've had lately, where the pain is greater than the gain. When the risk is realized and it's no longer a "risk," It's a reality. Keep the big picture in mind. No one, and I mean no one, is better suited to take the risk than us and the gains over time make it all worthwhile.

Colonel Borman spoke of why we fly - for Family, Country and Religion. And what allows us to enjoy and celebrate those three elements of our lives? Freedom! Without freedom, people are wrenched from their families, the populace is suppressed and religion is viewed as a threat to the state. Freedom is what it's all about! Colonel Borman said it better than I ever could, but I hope you've caught the flavor of his remarks.

Which brings me back to: IKMSR - F, C, R -> Freedom! That's how I remembered Colonel Borman's insightful comments.

God bless America and the Air Force Flight Test Center. We are the Flight Test Nation! manage the risk and be safe!