97 AMW creates innovation center to bring the future faster

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Trenton Jancze
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

When Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. became the Air Force Chief of Staff, he wrote a strategic approach document titled “Accelerate Change or Lose”. In it, he said that Airmen everywhere must innovate in order for the Air Force to “remain the most dominant and respected Air Force in the world.”

Airmen from the 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, applied this principle to their primary vision to forge “the world’s most inspired, proficient and adaptive mobility warriors.” By leaning forward into existing and emerging technologies, the 97th Operations Group is changing the way the 97th AMW trains C-17 Globemaster III, KC-46 Pegasus and KC-135 Stratotanker aircrew members through the 97 AMW innovation center.

Lt. Col. Adam Glover, 97th AMW innovation center director, said the center is comprised of three branches: the Pilot Training Transformation Mobility Air Force office, the Virtual/Enhanced Reality Training, Innovation and Generation Office, and the Spark Cell. PTT MAF focuses on adaptive aircrew training, VERTIGO focuses on the tools and equipment necessary to complete adaptive aircrew training and the Spark Cell focuses on finding solutions to various problems that emerge throughout the 97th AMW.

“The innovation center offers services that enhance the training environment here,” he said. “All three branches of the center have a slightly different focus, but they all work together in harmony toward the same main goal, which is improving training for students here as well as finding smart solutions for other issues Altus Airmen face.”

Glover said the innovation center was started to match pilot training techniques used in undergraduate pilot training that were being replaced by emerging technologies. 

“The training our aircrew members go through is changing, and in order to supplement the needs of our Airmen, we are enhancing the methods through which we deliver that training,” said Glover. “There is a potential for decrease in quality (in aircrew members) if we left the program the same. We are trying to keep that level of quality up, where students are going to be able to excel, even once they’re graduated from the program.” 

Maj. Eric DeGruchy, 97th AMW innovation center deputy director, said the ultimate goal is to fulfill the Wing’s charge to train exceptional mobility Airmen.

“The demand for proficient Airmen is rapidly increasing in correlation with the increasing threats from adversaries,” he said. “We’re maximizing the capabilities students have while they are here, and under our new model of training and with new technology, we will be able to effectively and efficiently train proficient, competent mobility Airmen for America.”