Richard Smith

Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Economics & Finance

First Advisor

Cullen Goenner


In 2014, the USAF reduced its personnel by approximately 20,000. One of the areas hit hardest by the cuts were the faculty at the USAF C-17 formal training unit, where students are trained to fly the C-17 transport plane. Due to the reduction in forces, faculty staffing dropped by 30% though the number of students remained the same. Air-to-air refueling during the Pilot Checkout Course is the most commonly failed syllabus event. When a student fails to progress on a syllabus event, it requires additional instructor, simulator, and aircraft resources. In an effort to reduce the amount of failures and improve efficiency, the faculty collected data relating to how students prepared for the air refueling required for the course and applied theories on learning to analyze how number of repetitions, time between practices, and demographic factors influenced a student’s ability to progress on every flight.