Cannon pilot earns ACC flying instructor honors

Capt. Ryan “Rock” Wartman, left, greets Capt. Steven “Amp” Frodsham, 522nd Fighter Squadron, Oct. 13 after Captain Frodsham’s fini flight – his last at Cannon. The Air Combat Command Instructor Pilot of the Year is heading to Langley AFB.

Janet Taylor–Birkey

As a boy, Steven Frodsham was captivated by the model planes his dad displayed in their home. “My father transferred his love of flying to me,” said Steven. “He had a bunch of model airplanes in the house and he just always loved military aircraft and aircraft in general, and would take me to air shows all the time.”
But one of his defining moments came at his first air show. “From the day I was probably 8- or 9- years-old and went to my first air show, I knew I wanted to be a pilot,” he said.
Robert, Steven’s father, didn’t know his hobby would spawn a love so deep that his son would one day teach others to fly – and not only fly, but fight.
Steven is now Capt. Steven Frodsham, an operational flying instructor with the 522nd Fighter Squadron, chief of Wing Weapons for the 27th Fighter Wing and recently named the 2005 Air Combat Command Operational Flying Instructor of the Year.
“It’s a very big honor and I’m happy to have received it,” Captain Frodsham said. “I’m ecstatic to be honest. It’s one of those cases where I can’t believe I actually won.”
While the captain may have difficulty believing he won, Lt. Col. Tod Fingal, 522nd Fighter Squadron commander, has no trouble believing it. “I could not be more proud of Captain Frodsham for being recognized as ACC’s IP of the Year for 2005, but I am honestly not surprised,” said Colonel Fingal. “Captain Frodsham consistently devoted his time toward improving the Fireballs’ combat capability, and we were able to regain our combat mission–ready status two months ahead of ACC’s schedule following our most recent, major aircraft modification.”
Those not familiar with the flying world, might wonder what it means to be an operational flying instructor.
“I take the baseline F-16 pilot that comes out of Luke (Air Force Base, Ariz.) and instruct them in the combat systems of the aircraft and teach them how to go to war with it,” Captain Frodsham said, adding that the goal is to instruct pilots on the advanced tactics of the F–16 and to train them “to be the most lethal pilot they can be.”
The captain said being an instructor is something he would encourage a pilot to aspire to, comparing it to climbing the corporate ladder.
Talking about his job is an honor for Captain Frodsham, but talking about his wife and daughters shows the heart of this combat warrior, who said he never has as much time to spend with them as he would like. “What little bit of free time I do have is absolutely dedicated to my family,” said Captain Frodsham. “I have a 3-year old and a 1-and-a-half year old little girl and an absolutely beautiful wife. Every ounce of free time goes toward them.” But just in case he does have a few minutes that are unaccounted for, the captain likes to fish or work on a motorcycle he is building in his garage.
While the ACC award is thrilling to Captain Frodsham, he appears almost embarrassed receiving public accolades, because he insists his win is not based on his performance alone.
“Not only is this an incredible honor for me, but highlights the level of training we do here at the base and the incredible amounts of hard work that our young maintenance Airmen and pilots put in,” the captain said. “Most of the [Airmen] out there are putting in 12 to 14 hour days, working through meals, working through weekends. They really put in a lot of effort to keep our F–16s in the air and to train to such a high level of combat proficiency.”
Although it’s been a few years since his graduation from the Air Force Academy in 1995 and he has been all over the world, the roar of a jet ready for takeoff still enthralls the captain. With the same eyes as the 8-year-old little boy who knew he would one day fly, the captain said, as he listened to a jet’s roar, “I never get tired of hearing that.”
Captain Frodsham made his final flight at Cannon on Oct. 13 and will take his honors and family to his next assignment at Langley Air Force Base, Va.