07/09/08 — Singapore pilots coming to train with Seymour Johnson squadron

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Singapore pilots coming to train with Seymour Johnson squadron

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on July 9, 2008 1:46 PM

Members of the 4th Fighter Wing's 333rd Fighter Squadron are used to training air crews.

They do more of it than any squadron of its kind in the Air Force.

But Maj. Trent Hill admits they have never had a class quite like the one they will adopt later this week, when 16 officers from the Singa-pore Air Force arrive at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

"It is going to be challenging in a lot of respects," Hill said. "But this is what we do every day."

The airmen and their families will be living in Wayne County for the next year, as they train on the 4th's version of the F-15SG their country purchased from Boeing in 2005.

"The (F-15E), it's not exactly like the SG," Hill said. "But we will give them the basics of stick and throttle and how to fly and employ the F-15 air frame."

Hill characterized their first month of training as "heavy on academics."

"They'll go and receive aircraft general, hydraulics, electronics, avionics -- all that kind of stuff," he said.

But by the end of August, they are expected to take flight.

"The first time they go up, they go out and just do basic handling, navigation, point to point ... come back here and learn to land the aircraft," Hill said.

The Singapore airmen will not present some of the challenges one might expect from foreign students. Each has worked with fighter jets before. Each speaks English, Singapore's national language.

"But what they don't know, they don't know how to fly the F-15E," Hill said. "They don't know about the crew concept. Most of them are coming from single-seaters. The meshing of those two seat positions in the F-15, and the stuff this aircraft can do, it's going to be challenging for them."

And after a year, if they graduate, their mission -- and challenge -- would continue.

They will take what they have learned to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, where they will stand up their own squadron.

And each will become a member of Singapore's version of the 333rd, air crews whose mission is to train the next generation.

"These 16 guys are the core F-15SG pilots for their Air Force," Hill said. "Think about the first 100 guys to fly the Strike Eagle when it came off the assembly line. It's impressive stuff."

So be on the lookout for Wayne County's newest airmen-residents and make them feel at home.

In doing so, you might just help the 333rd complete its mission.

"Of course, our job is to train these air crews to fly this air frame," Hill said. "But we have other goals. And one of those goals we set as a squadron was to show them a great Goldsboro, Wayne County and American experience."