The United States Air Force Recruiting Service and the University of Central Missouri have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that launches a new test program to help meet the needs of the Air Force in recruiting men and women to become military officer pilots.

The MOU was signed on October 20, at a ceremony held at UCM’s Max B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport. UCM says the agreement sets in motion a process by which the university’s Department of Aviation can annually nominate up to five senior aviation student applicants for the Air Force’s Pilot Officer Recruiting Program.  If accepted upon their graduation from UCM, they will go on to attend the Air Force’s Officer Training School (OTS) followed by Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT).

“We are excited to be establishing this partnership with the Department of Aviation at UCM. It’s an institution which develops young men and women in the field of aviation while adhering to the same core values of integrity, service and excellence that guide our Airmen in the U.S. Air Force,” said Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, commander of the Air Force Recruiting Service. “I have no doubt that many graduates who’ve established a foundation in these principles will go on to make incredible pilots and leaders in our Air Force.”

Maj. Gen. Harencak and Charles Ambrose, UCM president, signed the MOU. The Air Force Recruiting Service Operations Division (AFRS/RSO) will coordinate an annual date for UCM senior aviation students to submit applications to the USAF via the director of the Aviation Department. AFRS/RSO Headquarters will review and evaluate the UCM applications, and contact applicants with regard to their selection or non-selection.

“This agreement is symbolic of UCM’s continued commitment to serve the U.S. Air Force and our many men and women in uniform,” Ambrose said. “Nationwide, there is shortage of pilots that is impacting commercial aviation and the military. UCM has an exceptional aviation program, and we are grateful that we have an opportunity to produce graduates who will help fill a critical need for Air Force officer pilots.  This program is a next big step in the Whiteman Advantage, a comprehensive program to serve military-related and veteran students across the region.”

'The Whiteman Advantage' includes programs that help active duty military personnel who want to advance in their careers, as well as those who are preparing to make a transition to civilian life. Key elements consist of the Military and Veterans Success Center, which provides a one-stop resource for active duty service members, veterans and military dependents; Military Tuition Package to help reduce college costs not covered by traditional military benefits; and Command Pass that provides active duty military and veterans free admission to UCM athletic events.

A retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel and B-2 pilot, Tony Monetti, executive director of aviation and the Skyhaven Airport, echoed Harencak’s comments about the alignment of UCM aviation and the Air Force’s core values. He added, however, that UCM’s core values also include “relationships,”  “joy,” and “safety always.”

“It is a natural progression that the U.S. Air Force has chosen UCM as a test program to evaluate future USAF pilot officer candidates,” said Monetti. “This is an amazing opportunity which brings me much personal ‘joy’. To think that some of our students can now have a fast track to fly for the greatest Air Force in the world excites me.”

“As a graduate of UPT nearly 30 years ago, I can assure you that this is a huge honor. UPT was the most demanding training I have ever endured,” Monetti said, also noting that he looks forward to UCM aviation students soon having the privilege of “lighting the afterburners of a T-38 supersonic Talon (training jet) while dancing with the clouds.”