Student Flight tests leadership skills at Volk Field

They ranged in age from 18 to 26. For three of them, this was the first time they had ever met the group – looking in you’d never know that. They acted like family. When someone needed help, another was there to lift them up. When someone else had a question, a couple others were eager to answer.

Coming from an active duty background, I never really understood the importance of having a student flight. Weren’t they supposed to get thrown into the mix when they got sent to basic training, like everyone else was?

After spending the day with them, I have a completely different perspective. Why not set them up for success? Why shouldn’t they be taught to become strong leaders from the moment they sign their enlistment contract?

This is just another reason why I love the Air National Guard so much. The organizations focus is on the Airmen from the start. Leaders know their success is dependent on the accomplishments of those they lead.

Senior Master Sgt. Harvey, the leader of the pack, knows this and has high expectations for his new Airmen. His goal is to teach them as much as he can in the amount of time he gets with them!

For some, they only have a few days before they head to basic. Others have several months. Harvey fills them with as much knowledge as possible in all scenarios.

He teaches them about the history, customs and courtesies, physical fitness, and on the particular day I got to observe them – he taught them how to become leaders and work together as a team.

Even though some had just met for the first time, they all succeeded! Here are some photos of their day at the leadership development course. I’ve also included images of the recruits eating their first MREs and visiting the museum at Volk Field.

Student Flight – welcome to the Air National Guard. The best journey of your life has begun!

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About Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode

Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode is a photojournalist for the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wisconsin.