Air Force ROTC Cadets Experience Incentive Rides in New Mexico

John K. Graham, Class of 2017, Mechanical Engineering

MIT ROTC incentive ridesOver IAP, a handful of MIT’s Air Force ROTC cadets were given the opportunity to get incentive rides in the QF-4 aircraft at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Incentive rides, intended to motivate cadets to become pilots, are not unusual. However, the QF-4s are; only a few of these aircraft are left in the US Air Force's fleet. Originally Vietnam era fighter jets, the QF-4s have been outfitted with new avionics so they can be flown remotely to serve as live targets for training missions. The cadets sat in on manned-testing missions that pushed the aircraft's flight envelope, pulling up to 5.5 Gs, reaching speeds of Mach 1.2, and participating in two-ship basic fighting maneuvers including high-aspect rejoins. Prior to the flights, the students had to pass a flight physical and a basic parachuting/wilderness survival “crash” course. After the incentive flights, the cadets enjoyed sledding in the sand dunes at White Sands National Park.