388th, 419th FW Airmen head to renewed William Tell competition

  • Published
  • By Micah Garbarino
  • 388th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Airmen from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings here will test their flying and tactics at William Tell 2023, an air-to-air dominance competition being resurrected after nearly 20 years. 

Named after a fabled Swiss archer, the Air Combat Command event will test aircrew performance in air superiority, weapons and tactics, as well as weapons loading, maintenance and intelligence operations.

According to the event planners, during the previous life of the William Tell competition, “elite teams drove each other to be better and helped Airmen understand their true limits and capabilities.”

F-22 Raptors, F-15 Eagles, F-35A Lightning IIs and command and control aircraft from across the combat air force will all gather at the Air Dominance Center in Savannah, Ga., Sept. 11-15.

While the exact details of the competition are being closely guarded by the planners, pilots will have the opportunity to integrate across platforms as well as fly against pilots in their own platforms, said Capt. Spencer Thompson, F-35A pilot from the 34th Fighter Squadron and the wing project officer for William Tell.

Competition is nearly synonymous with fighter-pilot culture. It takes thick skin to stand up to post-mission debriefs, where mistakes are called out, or meet board after board against your peers to be selected for the next upgrade. Like the often-quoted proverb, “Iron sharpens iron.” In fighter squadrons, competition is not feared, but embraced.

“The pilots in the squadrons are pretty excited about it,” said Thompson.  “What other event in the Air Force do you get to compete against other pilots in your same platform and get graded in things like a live-gun banner shoot over the ocean?”

From the 388th and 419th FWs, pilots from the 4th, 34th, 421st, and Reserve 466th Fighter Squadrons will be represented. Participants will be nominated by each squadron’s weapons officer and then selected by the squadron commander to represent the wing. Since the 421st is deployed, and the 4th is in the preparation phase, many of the team members will come from the 34th Fighter Squadron. Maintainers from the 34th Fighter Generation Squadron will be providing the aircraft.

While the U.S. Air Force still maintains a steady operations tempo, William Tell planners hope resuming the event will foster the exchange of tactics and better prepare Airmen for combat operations.

“I am looking forward to seeing our teams compete. Any opportunity to train harder enables us to become more lethal, agile, and survivable,” said Lt. Col. Ian Osterreicher, 34th Fighter Squadron commander.  

The teams from the 388th Fighter Wing are: 

Men In Black
Team Captain: Capt. Daniel Guerrero
Capt. Spencer Thompson
Maj. Kenn Boechler
Capt. Devin Mulvanny
Capt. Marcos Orozco

“Prestige Worldwide”
Team Captain: Lt. Col. Luke Bledsoe
Maj. Brycen Scholz
Lt. Col. Jeffrey Harding
Maj. Wesley Noyes
Lt. Andrew Martin