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C-21 schoolhouse gets a ‘flood’ of change

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Sam Eckholm, 375th Air Mobility Wing

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — Six months ago a flash flood wreaked havoc across Scott Air Force Base, accumulating as much as four feet of water in various buildings and hangars, which also affected the C-21 Formal Training Unit.

The unit had to quickly find a new home to continue its mission of training the next generation of C-21 pilots.

As the Air Force’s sole C-21 schoolhouse, the FTU is responsible for training approximately 50 pilots per year, so that they arrive at their units qualified to perform the C-21’s mission of transporting general officers and other distinguished visitors to locations around the world.

“After the destructive flood brought extensive damage to our classroom, we knew the mission had to continue,” said Maj. David Ferrara, C-21 FTU deputy.  But it couldn’t just be anywhere.

Maj. Ken Kaczmarek, C-21 FTU instructor pilot said, “To have effective training, we need to provide the appropriate environment and equipment to facilitate our students’ learning.”

After looking at multiple facilities across Scott AFB to use as the new FTU, a decision was made to transform the existing 375th Operations Group conference room into a classroom. Although the facility was selected, the room’s infrastructure was not prepared to support the requirements needed of a formal training environment.

As a solution, the FTU instructors repurposed old equipment and worked alongside the 375th Communications Squadron to turn the one-time conference room into a proper aviation training facility.

“The efforts of the 375th Mission Support Group and C-21 FTU cadre synergistically helped to keep the mission going and allowed us to build a professional training environment for all our future students,” said Kaczmarek.

Last year, the Air Force chief of staff brought an emphasis to discipline and safety due to an increase in mishaps.

“Building a strong foundation of discipline and safety begins with the training of our flying force, and for the C-21, that starts right here at the FTU at Scott Air Force Base,” Kaczmarek said.

While plans are underway to rebuild the original FTU facility, construction will likely not be completed until the spring of 2022. In the meantime, for the C-21 FTU instructors, the mission remains clear: train pilots to provide safe, on time, comfortable airlift.

Ferrara added, “The Air Force still needs to produce pilots, and no matter what is thrown at us, our mission doesn’t stop.”