Tag Archives: usafa

How to become an Air Force pilot

By Senior Airman Soochan Kim
Air Force Social Media Team

Many of us imagine it at least once: As a five-year-old child sitting on a chair playing pretend, as a teenager playing flight simulator video games, and in my case whenever I start the engine of my car (yes, I still play pretend when I’m by myself).

A fan watches the demonstration during the Dayton Airshow, June 21, 2015, at Dayton, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rachel Maxwell/Released)
A fan watches the demonstration during the Dayton Airshow, June 21, 2015, at Dayton, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rachel Maxwell/Released)


I’m talking about becoming a pilot. Not so surprisingly, many people choose to join the United States Air Force in hopes of becoming a pilot.

While we all dream of flying the multimillion dollar metal bird and delivering freedom to the enemies below in a form of explosives, let’s hold that thought and ask: how DO you become a pilot in the Air Force?

As many may find this surprising, it’s definitely not by wearing a pair of aviator sunglasses and growing out a Burt Reynolds mustache (not to mention that his mustache would be pushing it against the regulations). Rather, it requires an extensive amount of training and education to be selected as a pilot.

Continue reading How to become an Air Force pilot

Congrats USAFA class of 2015!

By Air Force Social Media

The energy was electric at Falcon Stadium as 840 cadets graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy May 28, 2015 in Colorado Springs, Colo. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James presided over the ceremony, and told the new officers that they are the next generation of Air Force leaders, and they will play important roles in the future of the service.
Browse through the photo gallery below to get an inside look at many of the highlights from class of 2015’s graduation.










A chance encounter

Lorenz photoby Retired Gen. Steve Lorenz
U.S. Air Force Academy Endowment President

As a leader, you must always be observant of what is going on around you. Literally you need to observe, listen and sense in a 360 degree circle in real time. To truly be effective, you need to have your radar up and running at all times because you never know when you can make a difference.

Recently, I was walking to my car after a meeting with the Air Force Academy Director of Athletics and I chanced upon a cadet walking back to the cadet area. She seemed deep in thought and very preoccupied. I turned and asked her how she was doing. I could tell she was thinking, “who is this stranger and I don’t have time to talk to him.”

I persisted and once again asked how she was doing.

She said “fine”, but I could tell something was wrong. I introduced myself and reminded her that I had talked about leadership with her cadet class about six months before. She seemed to remember and then finally told me about her recent academic and discipline challenges. I listened carefully, paused and related to her some similar challenges I faced 40 years before when I was cadet. We talked about the struggles of having to study harder to make better grades, and that when you break the rules you must be a leader and accept the consequences of your bad decisions. I asked her what her personal goals were and she said she wanted to graduate from the Academy and be commissioned an officer in the Air Force.

I remember all those many years ago when I was restricted to my room studying and serving confinements. I would get depressed and start feeling sorry for myself. To keep my motivation up, I would look at a picture of my class ring and remind myself why I was at the Academy. It helped me on my darkest days. This cadet was still a year away from ordering her ring, so I gave her my tie tack which had the Air Force symbol on it. I told her that she must never give up on her goal and that when she was down in the months to come, she should hold that small Air Force symbol in her hand and let it remind her why she was at the Academy. She took it, said thank you and said she had to get back to class. As she walked away, I realized that I never even got her name. I told my wife about this encounter and put this chance meeting out of my mind.

However, much to my surprise, two days later I received an e-mail from the cadet’s father. In part it said:

“Hello Mr. Lorenz, I have not had the honor of meeting you, but…my daughter, though, has had the opportunity. You see, my daughter was the cadet you came across two days ago outside Clune Arena. Although you may believe it was a chance encounter, she believes it was something quite different. Her exact words to her mother and I was that running into you was ‘a sign.’ What you told her and said to her had a huge impact on her, one that she will never forget. You helped her to reaffirm her commitment to the Academy and why she went there.

“After a hard day with some difficult conversations and the normal struggles that most cadets face, she was starting to question whether she belonged at the Academy. Suddenly, you appeared, and were kind and compassionate enough to realize she was in need of a sympathetic person who could relate to her. Your conversation impacted her greatly, and she left your encounter more determined and intent on graduating because she received (your message) when she needed it most.

“Her mother and I live close to 650 miles away. We couldn’t be there for her at that moment, but we want to thank you for taking the time to stop and help someone in need. Taking time and having the patience to listen, be understanding, sympathetic, and impacting a stranger’s life forever. This is not an exaggeration, but a fact we feel strongly about. There was a reason you were there to help her and, for that, we will always be thankful to you. We just wanted you to know the influence you had on our daughter and that you made a difference in her life that day … Thank you again!”

Let me emphasize that this story is not about me. I was just there and asked the cadet how she was doing. It is about observing those around you and making a difference when you least expect it. If you are observant, even chance encounters provide an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. So, the next time you are out among people, even if you are just walking down the street, take the time to notice each one as an individual. You may have the chance to make a huge difference.

PHOTO: General Stephen Lorenz, Air Education and Training Command commander, visits with 312th Training Squadron students at the fire academy Sept. 8, 2008. Lorenz retired from the Air Force Jan. 1, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. John Barton)

Warrior Games 2013: An inside look

Air Force News Service
Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Warrior Games, a spirited competition that pits wounded, ill or injured service members and veterans against their representative services, continues into its fourth year as teams converge on Colorado Springs, Colo., beginning May 11.

This year, 50 Airmen and former Airmen will compete in individual and team sports including archery, cycling, shooting, swimming, track and field, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

Over the next two weeks you’ll get a close-up look at these warriors and the long road they’ve travelled from, in some cases death’s door, to becoming some of the premier wounded athletes in the country.

There’s the story of Katie Robinson, a former combat camera videographer who was shot in Iraq and has worked through PTSD issues to compete in both swimming and track and field. Then there’s Darrell Fisher, a former senior airman who was pronounced dead in a random shooting and went through an intense near death experience before a long road to recovery.

Staff Sgt. Lara Ishikawa tells the story of her fight against invasive mammary carcinoma. “It’s heart-wrenching,” Ishikawa said. “Nobody expects to get cancer, and I had no family history of it. I’ve always been very healthy and active, and I tried to take care of myself. It was a shock…” She, along with two other cancer survivors, will compete this year.

Then there is the story of Master Sgt. Paul Horton, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal NCO, who says he was always the unlucky one growing up and has been blown up on six different occasions to prove it. He tells his story of overcoming the odds each time and somehow turning potential tragedy into a series of learning experiences. Maybe he’s not so unlucky after all.

These stories and more will be highlighted over the next two weeks as warriors from all services come together to show their mettle and compete over six days and seven events. These stories will sometimes amaze you, sometimes pull at your heart strings, but in all cases show examples of turning tragedy into something much more positive.

As a beginning to this series on the warrior games, below is a special post submitted by one of the Air Force wounded warriors.

By Keith Sekora
Air Force Wounded Warrior

Last month, 55 Airmen came together to represent the Air Force at a training camp for all 2013 Warrior Games competitors. Throughout the camp, we endured a rigorous training regiment to compete in different sports like track and field, shooting, swimming, cycling, archery, wheelchair basketball and seated volleyball.

For me, training days started out with more than two hours of track and field practice where I was put through the paces of throwing a discus and shot-put by coaches Buddy and Jenn Lizzol. After a quick lunch break, I attended another two-hour training session to gear up for seated volleyball where I was physically and mentally challenged every day by coaches Nicki Marino and Adrieen Rank. After a short drive to the archery range, I spent another two hours honing my archery skills under the watchful eye of Coach Gary. My favorite sport is definitely seated volleyball because I played it before I was wounded and love the fact that with some adaptation I can continue to play.

Retired Tech. Sgt. Keith Sekora practices a serve during sitting volleyball.
PHOTO: Retired Tech. Sgt. Keith Sekora practices a serve during sitting volleyball at the 2013 Warrior Games training camp at the Air Force Academy, Colo. Sekora is competing in volleyball, shot-put and discus.

After shrapnel from an improvised explosive device struck the back of my neck during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2010, I suffered a series of four strokes and was left with post-traumatic stress disorder, memory loss, vertigo and loss of feeling on the left side of my body. But, that hasn’t swayed my confidence in participating because I love competing in the Warrior Games. It gives me a sense of purpose again and also lets me know that I am not alone. Each of us compete under the flag of our branch of service, but I think it’s more important that we get to meet other wounded warriors who understand what we are going through. Everyone is willing to help each other out, no matter what branch you are from.

This is my second Warrior Games, and this year’s team is very young. There are not many returning athletes from last year’s games, and those who have returned are mentoring the new athletes.

Another big change is in the behind-the-scenes staff who worked hard to help things move along smoothly. This is by far the best training camp I have attended yet. Last year, leading up to the 2012 Warrior Games, I attended several adaptive sports camps with members of the Navy, Coast Guard and U.S. Special Operations Command teams and developed good friendships with many of them.

Don’t get me wrong, the competition is hard and no one lets up at all. We are here to show the world that even though we are wounded or disabled, we are still fierce competitors. I think 55 individual athletes came to training camp and left as a team with one thought in mind — to win!

Airman shows skills as F-22 demo pilot

 by Airman 1st Class Austin Harvill
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

1/2/2013 – LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFNS) — (This feature is part of the “Through Airmen’s Eyes” series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

The serenity of a sleepy, morning sky broke as a dark form rose from the ground and blotted out the sun. An F-22 Raptor maneuvered through the dawn, banking and rolling, rising and falling at impossible angles. Through the cockpit window, a faceless visor disguised the pilot’s exertion.

He angled the jet into a vertical climb as the engines roared to defy gravity. His plane leveled out, and he slowly spun to the earth.

Such complex maneuvers become routine for one pilot at Langley Air Force Base, Va.

Capt. Patrick Williams, the new Air Force F-22 Raptor demonstration pilot, practiced these maneuvers to give crowds worldwide a taste of both the Raptor’s, and the Air Force’s, capabilities.

“People typically see the Air Force on the news, and that’s it,” said Williams. “The air show is the best way we can say ‘Hey America, look at this awesome airplane you’ve given us. This is why we are so successful at what we do.'”

Before taking the controls of the world’s premier, fifth-generation jet fighter, Williams honed his skills in the back-country skies of Idaho at the age of five.

“I still remember my very first log-book entry,” said Williams. “My dad let me sit on his lap during a flight, so he wrote down the entry. It said ‘we saw horses and cows in the Salmon River valley.'”

After speaking with his father about the future of flying as a career, Williams embraced his desire to fly fighters by joining the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Co., as a prospective pilot.

During his tenure at the academy, Williams participated in the glider program, became a cadet instructor and graduated with a degree in Astronautical Engineering. Upon completion of his academy training, he travelled to Mississippi to begin basic fighter training, after which he began training to fly the F-15C Eagle.

Williams was assigned to the 12th Fighter Squadron in Alaska, and then transferred to the Raptor once the 90th Fighter Squadron stood up. After showing his skills in the cockpit at both Alaska and Hawaii, the Air Force selected him to become the next Raptor demo pilot.

With the new Raptor demo season quickly approaching, Williams said he was excited to show the world the power of the jet. The demo team plans to tour across the country and hopes to make some international stops as well.

As a demo pilot, Williams said he is honored to be the face of both the Raptor and the Air Force.

“I have to pinch myself every time I get out of the jet,” said Williams. “You land, look back and think ‘I can’t believe I get to fly that airplane.'”

Williams shares his passion for flying with the awestruck audience each time he hops into the cockpit to perform. His life in the sky inspires those watching to reach up and grab their own goals, even if they are small boys from Idaho.