18 AF commander visits 97 AMW FTUs

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Cameron Silver
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Maj. Gen. Thad Bibb Jr., 18th Air Force commander, came to Altus Air Force Base, Dec. 20, 2021, to give thanks to the 97th Air Mobility Wing’s formal training units (FTUs) and receive updates on current training efforts.

The Mighty 97th is home to the Air Force's only KC-135 Stratotanker, KC-46 Pegasus, and C-17 Globemaster III FTUs. These units are responsible for initial and upgrade aircrew training for all three weapons systems. Many graduates from each of these programs will go on to serve operationally with Bibb’s 18th Air Force where they will perform air mobility functions for U.S. Transportation Command.

Bibb was assigned to the then-56th Airlift Squadron at AAFB from 1999 to 2003 as a C-5 Galaxy instructor. He also served as a wing executive officer for a time and as the chief of standards and evaluation.

Upon arrival, Bibb was greeted by 97 AMW leadership and attended a working lunch. Multiple briefers from each FTU spoke to Bibb on several topics ranging from training numbers and support considerations to new adaptive training capabilities, such as simulators. 

The day concluded with an all call for aircrew students and instructors alike. There Bibb gave his praise for the efforts of the FTUs.

“He said he came here to say thank you to Altus for what we do,” said Maj. Matt Slaughter, 97th Training Squadron KC-46 curriculum flight commander. “Both for the 18th Air Force and the nation by providing all C-17, KC-135, KC-46 crew members.”

In addition to recognizing the care that FTUs put into training others, Bibb also stressed the value of Airmen taking care of themselves. 

“Although it was very beneficial to hear the details surrounding the support the numbered air force expected to provide to the 97th Air Mobility Wing, it was much more engaging when General Bibb shared the importance of good mental health, having support structures in place and making time for the important people and events within our lives,” said Senior Master Sgt. Willie Moody, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle management flight chief and visit project officer. “At the end of the day and our careers, that is what really matters.”

In 2021, the 97th AMW FTUs graduated 1,874 students, many of whom will be under Bibb’s command as they begin their careers as mobility Airmen.