USAF Test Pilot School graduates 147th class

  • Published
  • By Annamaria Taylor
  • U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School
On Dec. 8, the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School graduated their 147th class since their start at Wright Field in 1944. 

The school has come a long way since the first class of young men with a desire to fly, and now boasts the best of the best from around the world. 

Class 07A consisted of 11 flight test pilots, nine flight test engineers and two flight test weapons systems officers. The class included students from across the nation and students from France, India and Italy. 

Students have completed one of the most challenging and demanding courses in the world when they finish here. Each has completed more than 2,500 hours of academics and about 120 hours of in-flight training -- each student puts in about six hours per day of instructor contact time, not including academic and flight preparation time. 

During the final six months of the year at TPS, students demonstrate learning from across the curriculum by planning and executing real-world test management projects. Class 07A's TMPs were: 


HAVE STAV is a limited handling qualities evaluation of a supersonic tailless air vehicle with virtually no visibility for the crew and handling qualities similar to a space shuttle. In the approach and landing phase, they flew test missions on the NC-131 Total Inflight Simulator at Niagara Falls to test control schemes to make the difficult landing possible. The team members included Capt. Steve Speares as project manager, Maj. Matt Domsalla, Maj. Bill Quashnock, Nathan Cook, Capt. Brian Neff and Maj. Jason Porter. 


GOOD LOOKIN's goal was to determine the performance of an optical-inertial sensor fusion navigation system using monocular imagery. A C-12 Huron was used to carry two digital cameras, a low cost inertial measurement unit and the entire GOOD LOOKIN team. The potential is for automated or semi-automated landings without the use of standard navigational aids that could give away an aircraft's position, increasing survivability in a hostile environment. The team included Capt. Michael Nielsen as project manager, France Maj. Williams Grac, Capt. Christopher Bradley, Capt. Dan Itsara and Italy Capt. Luca Viarengo. 


The Capability Based Assessment of an Aircraft Survivability System project consisted of the flight demonstration of an affordable laser infrared countermeasure system developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and Lockheed Martin. The overall test objective was to demonstrate the ability of a laser countermeasure pod to defeat simulated missile threats on an operational fighter aircraft. The infrared anti-aircraft missile is a current, very real threat. Team members were Capt. Jose Gutierrez as project manager, Capt. Jonathan Dowty, Maj. Jennifer Jeffords, Capt. Mark Massaro, Capt. Ty Perschbacher and Capt. Richard Bush. 


This project came from the real-world question of how to control an advanced aircraft whose flight controls rely on classic air data -- airspeed, altitude and temperature -- when that data is lost due to battle damage or system failure. This first effort focused on using other information from the flight control computers to derive an airspeed estimate so that the damaged aircraft could return safely to base, or even continue its mission. Team members included Maj. Scott McLaren as project manager, India Squadron Leader Sreeram Jayashankar, Marine Maj. William Rothermel, Capt. Corey Beaverson and Capt. Donald Powers. 

Each student was 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. The 22 members of Class 07A are now ready to take their place as leaders in the flight test community.