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31st FW Airmen meet with Bulgarian students

A U.S. Air Force pilot from the 555th Fighter Squadron, Aviano Air Base, Italy, and a student from First English Language School, Sofia, Bulgaria, pose for a photo, Oct. 2, 2020, at Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bulgaria. The students met with both a pilot and a crew chief for about 25 minutes and discussed the various parts of a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon. During their visit, the students had the opportunity to practice the English language while discussing the various parts of the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

A U.S. Air Force pilot from the 555th Fighter Squadron, Aviano Air Base, Italy, and a student from First English Language School, Sofia, Bulgaria, pose for a photo, Oct. 2, 2020, at Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bulgaria. The students met with both a pilot and a crew chief for about 25 minutes and discussed the various parts of a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon. During their visit, the students had the opportunity to practice the English language while discussing the various parts of the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Rygiel, 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, speaks to students from First English Language School, Sofia, Bulgaria, during NATO enhanced Air Policing, Oct. 2, 2020, at Graf Ignatievo Air Base, . IBulgarian 1978, the First English Language High School became the first Bulgarian school in association with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. During their visit, the students had the opportunity to practice the English language while discussing the various parts of a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Rygiel, 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, speaks to students from First English Language School, Sofia, Bulgaria, during NATO enhanced Air Policing, Oct. 2, 2020, at Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bulgaria. In 1978, the First English Language High School became the first Bulgarian school in association with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. During their visit, the students had the opportunity to practice the English language while discussing the various parts of a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Rygiel, 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, speaks to students from First English Language School, Sofia, Bulgaria, during NATO enhanced Air Policing Oct. 2, 2020, at Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bulgaria. The First English Language School was founded in 1958 as a high school for education in English language. During their visit, the students learned about various parts of a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, and had the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Rygiel, 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, speaks to students from First English Language, Sofia, Bulgaria, during NATO enhanced Air Policing Oct. 2, 2020, at Graf Ignatievo Air Base, Bulgaria. The First English Language School was founded in 1958 as a high school for education in English language. During their visit, the students learned about various parts of a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, and had the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ericka A. Woolever)

GRAF IGNATIEVO AIR BASE, Bulgaria— --

 

While supporting NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission, 31st Fighter Wing Airmen gave 35  students from First English Language School in Sofia, Bulgaria, a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon tour at Graf Ignatievo Air  Base, Oct. 2, 2020. During the event, Aviano Airmen taught students about what it’s like to serve as a pilot and maintain the F-16s. 

 

The experience provided the students an opportunity to practice their English language skills and learn about what opportunities they could have, as the Bulgarian air force will begin flying F-16s in the future.  

 

“We have been able to do so much here,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Alexander Lodge, 555th Fighter Squadron pilot. “Being able to fly and support NATO enhanced Air Policing, and also being able to share what we do with the young men and women who could be Bulgaria’s next F-16 pilots is incredible.” 

 

During their visit, the students had the chance to walk around an F-16 and learn about the different parts of the aircraft from the maintainers. They were also able to sit inside the aircraft and learn about the flight controls from 555th FS pilots. 

 

In addition to the students in attendance, there were also Bulgarian maintenance personnel who were giving tours of their L-39 and MiG-29 Aircraft.  

 

“It is cool to see the kids out here taking an interest, and do a show and tell with some of the Bulgarian air force maintenance professionals, as well,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Rygiel, 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. “Being here at Graf Ignativo is a perfect opportunity to see what an operational mission looks like.”