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NEWS | Sept. 7, 2023

1st Fighter Wing selects “Champions” for William Tell

By Tech Sgt. Matthew Coleman-Foster 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

After nearly two decades, the William Tell air-to-air-competition    has returned, reinvigorating Air Superiority and demonstrating the U.S. Air Force’s lethal capabilities.

The competition is slated to take place September 11-15, 2023, at the Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Georgia.

The 1st Fighter Wing will compete in the air-to-air meet against other teams from across Air Combat Command, Pacific Air Forces and the Air National Guard.

“William Tell is a historic competition. This year we are going to have F-35 Lightning IIs, F-22 Raptors and F-15 Eagles competing," said Maj. Dodge, William Tell Exercise Director. “Each of the eight flying wings competing will bring teams comprised of aircrew, intelligence, and a weapons load team.”

The competition dates back to 1954, taking on the name of the fabled folklore William Tell, an excellent marksman, forced by a government authority to shoot an apple off his son's head for failing to bow to authority. In the same way, the air-to-air meet continues  to see highly talented teams from dozens of units across the Air Force pit themselves against each other in all aspects of air-to-air combat. 

“What we have realized is air dominance and superiority is not a birthright,” said Dodge. “It is something we must earn and continue to maintain. So, bringing back William Tell now is significant as the global landscape and our near-peer adversaries continue to change.” 

The teams are composed of four to eight Aircrew with one team captain, two intelligence Airmen, and three weapons loading Airmen.

“There will also be command and control airmen coming from two separate wings to participate in the event,” said Dodge.

The 1st Fighter Wing’s William Tell team members for 2023 are:

Team Captain from the 27th Fighter Squadron

 Instructor Pilot from the 149th Fighter Squadron

Instructor Pilot from the 27th FS

Flight Lead:  from the 27th FS 

Wingman: from the 94th Fighter Squadron

Intelligence: Intelligence Officer from the 27th FS and Intelligence Analyst from 1st Operation Support Squadron

Weapons Load Team from the 71st Fighter Generation Squadron

Those chosen to represent 1 FW were selected based on sustained excellence. Once the best of the best were identified as potential candidates, internal competitions were held to determine the final teams.

“Here at the 1 FW, all kinds of grading criteria were used to select the team such as flying profiles, a test on general knowledge and how the pilots have executed in their specific jobs up to this point,” said Dodge.

The air-to-air meet will test the capabilities of each team by way of basic fighter maneuvers, beyond visual range, within visual range, air combat maneuvering, offensive/defensive counter air fighter integration, intelligence, weapons loading and command and control.

“We will also be doing a banner shoot, which will be a live employment of the gun,” said Dodge.

The team captain for the 1 FW team believes his team will show up and show out at William Tell, just like they always do whether they are home or abroad.

“This competition allows us to test ourselves against other squadrons and share knowledge with each other,” said Holster. “It is important we find these valuable opportunities to fly together, and refine Air Force tactics, techniques, and procedures, while also promoting collaboration amongst us.”

The weapons load crew is just as amped as their team captain and brings the same intensity to the competition they have   day in and out.

“William Tell showcases the best of the best not only in aircrews, but also load crews. Throughout my years, I have learned every tip and trick that I can and believe we will be the fastest team there is,” said #2 man 71 FGS, Weapons Load Crew.

The weapons load crew also added that the competition is no different than their everyday mission and their success measurement is no different.

“The pilots need to be able to operate in the airspace and be on target. We do not fail as Ironmen,” said #1 man 71 FGS, Weapons Load Crew.

The restarting of William Tell falls in line with the efforts of Air Combat Command to rapidly modernize air superiority fighters for air dominance, while also focusing on developing and valuing elite teams excelling under pressure in various scenarios and developing leaders in areas of critical interest such as Multi-Capable Airmen and Agile Combat Employment.

As the 1 FW and other wings continue to prepare to show their mettle against the other teams across the Air Force, Dodge has one piece of advice for them all:

“You have been selected from our wing to be a part of William Tell for a reason. The drive to have excellence in everything you do is inside every Airman. We have asked each wing to send us your champions - now it's time to compete!”

(The personnel’s information in this article has been masked for security purposes.)