Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Christopher Jones


As experienced fighter pilots leave the United States Air Force (USAF) and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), there is a need to develop new competent pilots to meet national defense requirements. Fighter training programs are expensive for taxpayers, and the USAF and RAAF face significant resource problems developing and implementing these programs. Using policy feedback theory and punctuated equilibrium theory as the theoretical foundation, the purpose of this comparative, multi-case study of current USAF F-16 and RAAF F-18 fighter pilot training policies was to inform training policy development and efficacy of future USAF and RAAF fighter pilot training programs. Data were gathered from training policy documents and 12 interviews with F-16 and F-18 pilots. Data were deductively coded and analyzed using policy feedback and punctuated event themes. Findings indicate that policy feedbacks and punctuated events influence fighter pilot training policy. Best practices for training include optimum stress management, appropriate academic course timing, and phase-based training techniques. Optimal instructional approaches included a servant leadership philosophy and a need for improved kinesthetic flight preparation tools and procedures. The USAF and RAAF approach fighter pilot training differently. The positive social change implications stemming from this study include recommendations to the USAF and RAAF that may improve fighter pilot training policy at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayers.