Qualifying for a Dream
I had to tell myself as a boy, who eagerly wanted to fly, that I would make it. When I mean by "boy", I mean as an eighteen year old after High School. That's when I began taking steps towards a pilot's career. It all started out as a playboy's dream. I liked to watch airplanes, so I thought that becoming a pilot would be very cool. I would be attracted by the fiery action of dog fighting portrayed on TV and enjoyed reading war stories from books and magazines. So I thought if I fight and risk my life as a soldier, then maybe I would get rich too right?
So, I wanted to fly for the military. While my passion was good for the first steps, my path turned out to be verydifficult. My father didn't have much knowledge on what was required either.
"Just try and make it before you're ripe thirty and be a legal U.S citizen." He said to me.
"Yup. I'm quite sure your grandfather could've been of more help to you in this, but all you can do is keep him in your thoughts. The rest is up to you. Good luck son."
Aye, I thought I would be accepted into flight training and be off, but those were the thoughts of someone with impatience. Someone who just wanted the darn key passed to him already so that he could get to work. But the difficulties that I had faced, and the sweat that I had shed, made me learn that it was all for carrying the heavy pride and assurance of my country. Just to adventure near Heaven, there were demands.
Back then, I didn't know what I was about to witness, what it meant to fly. I knew that everybody liked a hard worker. I was always told to "work hard" every time I had a goal, but these days leading up to the threshold of True Flight felt beyond hard work. It was like a huge test of human limits, of my body and my soul, as officers were figures of high assessment.
I had to wonder if a guy like Maverick of the 1980s movie Top Gun was made as a fictional tool of Hollywood to easily captivated stupid kids like me. He was a handsome pilot who was brash and insubordinate to look cool, but that would mean the guy spent maybe five years of his life in harsh competition and constant training. He had to learn many things, from the instruments of aircraft to the study of body physics and aerodynamic forces, just to fly. Maybe I am over thinking things.
So what did I do?
First, I went to St. Cloud State University for four years and received my Bachelor's Degree in The Department of Aviation. I was twenty-two years old at the time. After College, I had to take the USAF Officer Qualifying Test or AFOQT - just for candidacy into Flight School. If I didn't aspire to go into the Air Force, I think I would've just taken a seat in a Northwest Boeing, hauling happy asses all over the Earth so that tourists could bake on the beaches of Cacun, Mexico or see the glowing city of Metro Manila in The Philippines. Would that have been easier?
The AFOQT made my IQ rolled like gears against a time of four hours. My left and right brain was abstracting every corner of analytic ability and mental stamina that I had. The test contained Instrument Comprehension like with dials and compasses; map-like table reading, following column X to row Y with the trace of my fingers; mathematical algorithms to test my reasoning, and so on. I'll say that bloody General Science, asking what kilometers are and what geothermal energy is, was probably the easiest along with the Word Knowledge section. There was also the Self-Description category.
Afterwards, I became OT (Officer Trainee) Aiden Christie, who stepped into three tireless months of officer fundamentals in Montgomery, Alabama. This was my first time in the military; many who joined the school were already enlisted, and that tipped against my favor into passing. Why was that? It's simply because those who have experienced years of Active Duty were easily recognized. I didn't let that scare me though, and I had to get to Colorado no matter what.
Why Colorado? That state is what some of us consider "The Gateway to Military Aviation". OTS (Officer Training School) was a big competition, a class where you are either passed or dropped. I asked myself, "how was one judged as the best out of a group of "candidates for the best'?" The highest grades? The sharpest mind? The flawless performance? Commissioned officers were the leading figures of the military. The objective of the school was the following: To produce a world-class officer of character possessing the American warrior ethos, prepared to lead Airmen, and embodying the Air Force Core Values. We always need people like that and selection should not be careless. Anyone would think every single person in the OTS class strived to be the best. Some would waver from their resolve, but not a lot. As a soldier, I quickly learned to follow orders and to increase my commitment. The Air Force had to choose me, to decide whether I was a body valuable to their corps. If there was one thing I had a strength in, I was told to have self-control and flexibility, an intense focus.
In March 2016, I was finally commissioned to 2nd Lieutenant and made arrangements for UPT (Undergraduate Pilot Training, or officially "Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training", JSUPT for short) in Pueblo, Colorado. I had time to kill before then; besides, I had to take my Flight Physical. Pilots had to be medically qualified to fly and it was a requirement before training began. Believe me, I was going to go through physicals as much as a single driver getting jailed for DUI in the Dakotas. I would get over it all and it was useful for my nearly month-long IFS (Initial Flight Screening). I also had my physical training.
For what seemed like countless hours (like twelve hours a day) through three phrases of training, I finally made it through UPT. Sterling Silver wings badge was pinned against my chest, denoting me as a true pilot.
It first started out as a dream, a boy's dream. Now, I would a part of the best, and the highly reliable. It would be held certain that my mind and body, which was trained for this day, would serve this country called the United States of America well.
After training with the 435th Fighter Training Squadron for a month in Texas, I thought I was going to end up in maybe in a Strike Eagle. However, the Track told me something interesting. I was assigned to the revived Larson Air Force Base in Washington to join the so-called "Lancer Team".
The year is now 2017, and it looks like I'm going to be fighting those out-of-control Russkies and Chinese.