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Pilot life
A B-52H Stratofortress pilot discusses flight plans with his team on the flightline at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Jan. 25. The B-52 air crew members ride together on a bus from the 2nd Operations Support Squadron to their jet. This provides them with time to discuss any important mission-related details prior to their departure. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrea F. Liechti)(RELEASED)
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A day in the life of a B-52 pilot

Posted 1/26/2012   Updated 1/26/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Andrea F. Liechti
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

1/26/2012 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La.  -- His alarm clock rings long before the sun comes up. Pushing snooze isn't an option, as this B-52H Stratofortress pilot has a mission to fulfill. His morning briefings begin at 4 a.m.

Capt. Kristopher Rorberg, 2nd Operations Support Squadron instructor pilot, is ready to complete any mission put in front of him.

"I've always wanted to join the Air Force and become a pilot," Rorberg said. "Earning my wings in 2004 was just the start of it. I've been preparing for new missions ever since."

The flight crew spends the day prior to a scheduled mission listening to mass briefings. The mission briefings usually last eight hours and must be completed at least 12 hours prior to the start of the next mission. This allows the flight crew to get adequate sleep before departure.

Various topics are covered during the eight-hour briefings. They encompass why the mission needs to be completed, how it will be completed and try to foresee barriers to prevent problems. The pilots, co-pilots, navigators, radar navigators and electronic warfare officers are also given time to share their experiences to help their counterparts prepare as effectively as possible.

"We spend time discussing previous missions that have gone well and not-so-well on previous flights," said Rorberg. "It gives us a chance to learn from each other. We're all better because of it."

There are three skill levels of pilots in the Air Force. They include co-pilots, aircraft commanders and instruction pilots.

The initial level is a co-pilot. This pilot spends a lot of time training with more experienced pilots to gain as much real-world flight knowledge as possible. The co-pilot must fly with an experienced pilot for approximately two years after he has earned his wings. This will allow him enough experience to become an aircraft commander.

An aircraft commander is authorized to fly without an instructor. This pilot needs to clock as much flight time as possible to earn his way up to being an instructor pilot.

As an instructor pilot, Rorberg's job is to make sure the pilots he trains soak in as much information as possible.

"I want them to walk away from any flight with me feeling as though they've gained tons of additional knowledge," Rorberg said. "I love leading the crew, teaching as an instructor pilot and having an impact on their lives."

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