By Rick Dela Cruz
2nd Lt. Drew Dela Cruz will earn his Silver Wings at graduation on Dec. 13 from the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 13 At Columbus AFB, Mississippi.
The 52-week pilot training program begins with a six-week preflight phase of academics and physiological training to prepare students for flight. The second phase, primary training, is conducted in the single-engine turboprop T-6A Texan II at Columbus AFB, Miss. Students learn aircraft flight characteristics, emergency procedure, takeoff and landing procedures, aerobatics and formation flying. Students also practice night, instrument and cross country navigation flying. Primary training takes approximately 23 weeks and includes more than 250 hours of ground training, 27-plus hours in the flight simulator and more than 90 hours in the T-6A aircraft.
After primary training, students select, by order of merit, advanced training in the fighter-bomber or airlift-tanker track. Both are designed to best train pilots for successful transition to their follow-on aircraft and mission.
Dela Cruz was selected to train for the airlift-tanker which uses the T-1A Jayhawk. Instruction centers on new coordination and management, instrument training, cross-country flying and simulated refueling and air drop missions. Training takes about six weeks and includes approximately 185 hours of ground training, 43 hours in the flight simulator and about 104 hours in the T1A.
Following his graduation, Dela Cruz will spend three weeks of survival training at Fairchild AFB, in Spokane, Wash., and water survival training in Pensacola, Fla., then on to his next official assignment yet to be decided.
Dela Cruz is a 2007 graduate of Oak Ridge High School and a 2012 graduate from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Co. He is the son of Rick Dela Cruz and Jill E. Powers and has a younger brother Cory, also an ORHS grad, who is attending San Diego State University.