Air Force ROTC offers incentive rides, launches possible aviation careers

  • Published
  • By Phil Berube
  • Air University Public Affairs

As Air Force ROTC Field Training starts winding down at Maxwell, the aviation careers of some cadets might just now be getting off the ground.

Over the course of the summer, more than 2,200 cadets will rotate through the two-week training, which ends at the end of August. By then more than 220 of them will have been fortunate enough to have taken an incentive flight in the back seat of an A-27 Tucano aircraft.

The chance to fly serves as an incentive to possibly steer some of the cadets toward a career in Air Force aviation. However, Air Force ROTC leaders have a loftier view of the opportunity.

“Although the flight is the incentive, it’s actually an introduction to the operational side of the mission,” said Space Force Col. Corey Ramsby, commander, Air Force ROTC. “From an Air Force perspective, and from an air-mindedness perspective, what does it mean to be an Airman? And what better way to know what it means to be an Airman than to actually have experienced something in the air.”

One of the cadets who got a ride earlier this summer was left with very little to say.

“You can’t really tell what flying is like until you’ve done it in a jet,” said Cadet Apolinar Acevedo. “Looking around at the clouds, looking around at the world below and pulling some crazy maneuvers, I remember while being up there the whole time I was just speechless.”

Ramsby shares the story of how Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., was introduced to flying when he went on an incentive flight when in ROTC. Brown’s intent was to become a civil engineer; he ended up becoming a pilot instead because of that initial ride.

Acevedo could be heading down the same path as Brown.

“Ever since I was a kid, I was always dreamed of being a pilot,” he said. “I felt very shaky of military service. I didn’t feel I had the confidence for it, but I faced some challenges down, and I found out that I had the confidence for it, that I could do it.”

While giving incentive flights to cadets may generate a deeper interest in flying, the overall intent of the rides, and field training in general, is to develop warfighters ready to answer the call.

“I’m not creating a super cadet. I’m actually creating second lieutenants who our nation expects to fight and win our nation’s wars when their time comes,” said Ramsby. “We want to deliberately develop them so as they come on active duty as second lieutenants, they already have a sense of what it means to be a part of the profession of arms. If they can get some of that exposure now, when it matters the most, it won’t be the first time they’ve ever seen it.”