The “Base X” Syndrome
It’s important for a Christian fighter pilot to have an open and positive attitude towards the fellowships he may find at a new location. When departing a base with a large, well-run fellowship and moving to a place that only has a small group it is tempting to despondently remember how good it “used to be.” Even though Academy cadets eagerly await graduation, I have seen some bemoan their departure because they fear their new base won’t have a fellowship like the one they were leaving. Even though remote tours contain some of the harshest spiritual, emotional, and physical conditions I have known, I have seen airmen lament their departure from Korea for fear they’d be unable to duplicate the unique and intimate fellowship they’d experienced there.
Throughout the rest of the Air Force, this is known as the “Base X” syndrome. When someone arrives at a new base, they tend to compare everything to their last base: “At Luke we did it this way. At Spangdahlem, we did this differently.” Eventually, it becomes, “At Base X, we did it this way.” People who have that attitude develop a reputation for complaining—they are constantly bemoaning the perfect way their old base was and letting others know how their new base doesn’t do things so well. They fail to contribute to the present because they insist on living in the past.
Moving to new places and new situations is the nature of the Air Force. For example, the Academy OCF group had as many as 200 cadets involved in the fellowship, with multiple planned studies both on Saturdays and Mondays. OCF provided ample opportunity for Christian music, strong spiritual teaching, and an intimate fellowship. After I departed the Academy and arrived at my pilot training base, I and another student pilot formed the OCF study there. At any one time there may have been 3 or 4 people attending, with meetings sometimes moved or canceled because of schedule conflicts. No two Bible studies, churches, youth groups, or ministries are the same; some may be better than others, but the diversity and change a Christian experiences as the military moves him from one to another contributes to his growth and maturation. A Christian fighter pilot should have an open mind about his new studies.