Busy fuels flight focuses on safety, helping to ensure pilots don't become pedestrians

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Tiffany Sellers & 2nd Lt. Tyler Erb
  • 14th Flying Training Wing

The 14th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) has been “Fueling the Fight” since 1942. 

As one of the busiest Air Education and Training Command (AETC) bases in the United States, Columbus AFB hosts AETC’s largest aircraft fleet and generates approximately 48 thousand annual sorties for 230 aircraft with 344 Instructor Pilots executing a $160 million dollar flying hour program. None of this could happen without very particular provisions from the Logistics’ Fuels flight.  

14 LRS Fuels Flight receives and stores the fuel used for every single sortie. The Fuels Lab conducts constant, rigorous testing to ensure the safety, potency, and quality of all jet fuel before it ever reaches the skin of the aircraft. A team of R-11 fuel truck drivers expedite thousands of gallons of Jet A fuel and work with aircraft maintenance to refuel hundreds of T-6, T-1, and T-38 aircraft daily, from first light to last go in a varied range of weather conditions. The Fuels Service Center coordinates with the Maintenance Operations Center to ensure the correct aircraft are gassed up and the pilots can step for their flights on time. Fuel Specialists accomplish several meticulous additional activities behind the scenes before any pilot enters the cockpit for a safe flight.  

The inevitably high operational tempo of pilot training translates to an even higher output for fueling operations. Since fiscal year 2016, Columbus AFB Fuels has ranked in the top two throughout the Air Force in processed transactions, with a little dip during COVID. In fiscal year 2023 alone, Fuels issued nearly 10 million gallons of Jet A fuel and is once again on track to stay at the top of the rankings. Presently, the 14th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 14th Civil Engineer Squadron, Defense Logistics Agency – Energy, and Air Force Petroleum Office are actively working to rejuvenate the existing fuels infrastructure at CAFB to keep up with the growing demand and to smooth out inefficiencies' resultant of aged facilities, fueling assets and outdated processes.  

For the last 22 years, the Fuels team has paved the way for mission improvements through increased fueling capabilities, capacity, and airfield infrastructure improvements to provide uninterrupted flight training at Columbus.  

These revitalization efforts are leading to more efficient and effective fueling operations, maximizing Columbus AFB’s mission, to “Train World Class Pilots.” To quote a tried-and-true expression, “Without fuel, pilots are pedestrians.” From countless training sorties to real-time war scenarios, always remember, Fuels Flight fuels the fight.