Missouri Air Guardsman achieves top academic award at U.S. Air Force Weapons School

  • Published
  • By Mary-Dale Amison
  • 131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The U.S. Air Force Weapons School graduated 90 officers during a ceremony Dec. 10, 2011, at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.

Among these recent graduates was B-2 bomber pilot Maj. Ryan "Poacher" Bailey, 131st Bomb Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, who received the top academic award for B-2 Instructor Course Class 11-B.  He will now assume duties as Weapons and Tactics Officer of the 13th Bomb Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base.

"Maj. Bailey is the fourth member of the 131st to attend the U.S Air Force Weapons School since our transition to B-2 bombers, " said Lt. Col. Michael Pyburn, commander of the 110th Bomb Squadron and Bailey's supervisor, "He joins an elite group of graduate-level instructor pilots with world class training in weapons and tactics employment. To receive the top academic award out of a class of 90 graduates truly puts him among the best."

The Weapons School provides the world's most advanced training in weapons and tactics employment, and every six months, produces a new class of graduates who are expert instructors on weapons, weapons systems and air and space integration. Upon completing the course, graduates return to their home stations, taking the latest tactics, techniques and procedures for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat to their respective units.

The Weapons School traces its roots to the Aircraft Gunnery School established in 1949 at Las Vegas Air Force Base, which became Nellis Air Force Base in 1950. This organization brought together a cadre of World War II combat veterans dedicated to teaching the next generation of pilots. The Gunnery School converted to combat crew training to meet the needs of the Korean War.

Today's Weapons School encompasses 17 squadrons, teaching 22 combat specialties at eight locations. Only 30 percent of today's students come from the classic fighter specialties which built the initial reputation of the "patch." The 62-year tradition of excellence associated with the Weapons School continues as today's graduates go to units worldwide to focus on the integration challenges of tomorrow.

Bailey was one of eight Air National Guardsmen in his graduating class. Three graduates were from the Air Force Reserves, the remaining 79 were active duty Air Force. The other members of the 131st Bomb Wing who have graduated from The U.S. Air Force Weapons School since transitioning to the B-2 are; Maj John Avery, Lt Col Britt Hatley and Maj Geoff Billingsley.