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B-52 Schoolhouse pushes through pandemic

Photo of FTU Class 20-02 patch with them "Flattening the Curve".

Students in Formal Training Unit Class 20-02 graduate during a ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Dec. 4, 2020. The 93rd and 11th Bomb Squadrons have managed to keep the FTU classes on pace despite the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

Photo of students listening to guest speaker during graduation

U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew McDaniel, 2nd Operations Group commander, speaks to graduates of B-52 Formal Training Unit Class 20-02 at Barksdale Air Force, Louisiana, Dec. 4, 2020. He congratulated them on their achievement and exhorted them to become the next generation of leaders to help the Air Force remain a lethal force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

Photo of FTU Class 20-02 seated in chairs.

Students with B-52 Formal Training Unit Class 20-02 listen to a speaker during their graduation ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Dec. 4, 2020. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the 93rd Bomb Squadron and 11th BS have continued to train B-52 aircrew in a timely manner. (U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

Photo of student giving thumbs up.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Sabin Park, a B-52 Formal Training Unit student, gives a thumbs up during the graduation ceremony for FTU Class 20-02 at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Dec. 4, 2020. Park served as the senior ranking officer for the class and won the Lindell Mabus Leadership Award. The award is in honor of Lt. Col. Lindell Mabus, who served as 93rd Bomb Squadron commander when it was reactivated in 1993. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Ted Daigle)

BARKDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --

B-52 Stratofortress Formal Training Unit Class 20-02 graduated during a ceremony here Dec. 4, the final class to graduate this year.

The 93rd Bomb Squadron and 11th BS administer the formal training program and continue to supply the Air Force with a timely and steady stream of new B-52 aircrew, despite the on-going COVID 19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has been a challenge for everyone, but the instructors and students have really doubled-down to ensure everyone graduates on time and we couldn’t be more proud of their efforts,” said Lt. Col. Aaron Hedrick, 93rd Bomb Squadron commander.

The 93rd BS, an Air Force Reserve unit, and their active-duty counterparts in the 11th BS work in a total force integration arrangement. Their combined efforts have ensured all FTU classes graduated on time this year, while simultaneously ensuring all necessary requalification candidates maintained necessary readiness.

Hedrick said the student pipeline has continued uninterrupted and two new FTU classes are coming in on the heels of FTU Class 20-02. 

“We have one class that has wrapped up their classwork and will enter the flying phase and another class right behind them starting academics,” explained Hedrick.

The 93rd Bomb Squadron has served as the B-52 formal training schoolhouse for more than a decade, graduating its first class of students in 2009.