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Helicopter Pilot Training Experiment Skips Fixed-Wing Courses

In an effort to improve helicopter pilot training and alleviate the Air Force’s overall pilot shortage, Air Education and Training Command is about to experiment with a back-to-the-future plan that would send pilots to a helicopters-only flight school, resurrecting a format discontinued in the 1990s.

A “small group experiment” starts later this week at the Army’s Fort Rucker, Ala., training base, and contracts are expected to be awarded within the next two weeks for contractor-run helicopter training to begin next month, 19th Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Craig D. Wills told Air Force Magazine.

The experiment is the first step in Undergraduate Helicopter Training Next, a program to answer the question: “Could you not produce a world-class helicopter pilot by training them exclusively on helicopters? And we believe the answer is yes,” Wills said in a July 30 interview.

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