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Basic beginning for B-course students

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --  Don Muller teaches hydraulic systems to 2nd Fighter Squadron B-course students during their first week of training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chrissy Cuttita)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Don Muller teaches hydraulic systems to 2nd Fighter Squadron B-course students during their first week of training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chrissy Cuttita)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- (Editor's note: This is the second of a five-part series covering the training B-course students go through to get in the air.)

Tyndall's Eagle Academics classrooms are the home to F-15 Eagle pilots in training before the ever step into a jet.

They hit the books in hopes to make the passing grade on eight primary classroom course blocks termed "aircraft general," or ACG. Coursework covers everything from the Eagle's history to the systems they'll employ to fly, fight and win against any airborne adversary.

"Academics begin with a very basic introduction to the F-15 (C model)," said Capt. Gregory Soderstrom, 325th Operations Support Squadron chief of F-15 academics. "From there it moves into generalities about the aircraft, the systems, the sensors, the weapons and aircraft handling. These courses continue once they start flying, but will include basic air-to-air tactics, beginning at the one-against-one level and culminating with combat mission oriented four-against-X scenarios."

In the training syllabus, course content includes 267 hours of academics, 30 tests, one comprehensive test, 35 simulated flights and 46 sorties. A day in training can include any combination of these.

"It's designed to be challenging," said Capt. J.T. Grayson, 2nd Fighter Squadron B-course student. "The tactical stuff is the most unfamiliar (after graduating from undergraduate pilot training at Laughlin AFB, Texas.)"

Active-duty instructor pilots only teach the lessons concerning air-to-air tactical employment. Eighteen of the 23 instructors are civilian contractors. Most Lockheed-Martin employees are retired Air Force instructor pilots with extensive command experience ranging from squadron-to wing-level leadership backgrounds.

"It keeps us young and it's fun to see new pilots come in without much of a clue but leave with a whole lot of clues," said Don Muller, instructor and retired Air Force colonel.

The civilian instructors lead their students through seven ACG blocks encompassing electrical and fuel systems, hydraulics, flight controls, environmental control systems and more.

Academics are constantly set into play during simulated and actual flights. It's an integral part of becoming a certified Eagle driver during their fourth or fifth week here.