Flight commanders: Leading charge

Story and photos by
Senior Airman Devin M. Rumbaugh
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A crew chief with the 721st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron marshals a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III on Ramstein Air Base, Oct. 31. The 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing hosted a flight commander’s course, focused on training company grade officers, who are liaisons between the Airmen on the ground and the squadron commanders.


Approximately 16 company grade officers assigned to the 86th Airlift Wing, 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing and their geographically separated units attended the 521st AMOW flight commander’s course on Ramstein Air Base, Oct. 30 to Nov. 1.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Clark Dewhitt, 721st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron propulsions journeyman, takes a photo of a C-17 Globemaster III engine on Ramstein Air Base, Oct. 31.

The course focused on training officers in flight commander positions to fill the liaison role between Airmen on the ground and the squadron commander.

“I think the biggest thing, especially as a flight commander, is listening to your Airmen, figuring out where the issues are and how you can be that translator between your squadron commander and your Airmen, and figuring out what they need to employ that in the best way possible,” said U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Sara Loveless, 721st Aerial Port Squadron air terminal operations center duty officer.


For newer officers like Loveless, this training helped build a network of fellow officers she can reach out to when she needs additional guidance. More experienced officers like U.S. Air Force Capt. Christian Lora, 424th Air Base Squadron airfield operations flight commander, praised the curriculum.

“This is the first time I’ve been in this course. It’s been awesome. One of the key take aways is that (the course) is very broad. It touches on a lot of different things, not just supervising enlisted members,” said Lora.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Leseberg, 721st Aerial Port Squadron, noncommissioned officer in charge of in-transit munitions facility, loads a pallet of rations onto a truck on Ramstein Air Base, Oct. 31.

The course brought in briefers who’ve held multiple flight commander roles to share their experiences on how they successfully lead their Airmen.

“It has been an awesome opportunity to hear from other officers that range from brand new second lieutenants to mid-level captains from multiple different career fields,” said Loveless.

The course also demonstrated how to lead through recent changes in the enlisted force structure, and how flight commanders should use first line enlisted members to better accomplish the mission.

“It’s been an awesome opportunity to soak up the wisdom of those who have had a lot more experience,” said Loveless.

“This program has been able to give me the tools to do my job. I’m now able to rate my Airmen the way the Air Force wants me to,” said Lora. “They are giving me the right tools to do it well and I’m giving everyone an opportunity.”