HomeNewsArticle Display

MacDill flies classroom for ROTC, USAFA cadets

U.S. Air Force Cadet Lt. Col. Matthew Entner, a student of Detachment 643 at Cedarville University in Ohio, experiences what it feels like to be in the boom operator bod during a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft refueling flight June 14, 2018 over the Eastern United States.

U.S. Air Force Cadet Lt. Col. Matthew Entner, a student of Detachment 643 at Cedarville University in Ohio, experiences what it feels like to be in the boom operator pod during a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft refueling flight June 14, 2018 over the Eastern United States. The ROTC cadets witnessed a KC-135 refuel another KC-135 during a four-hour refueling flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets perform pushups while calling cadence during a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft incentive flight June 14, 2018 over the Eastern United States.

U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets perform pushups while calling cadence during a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft incentive flight June 14, 2018 over the Eastern United States. The ROTC cadets were invited to MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., as part of Operations Air Force, which is a two week visitation in which cadets had an opportunity to work alongside military members, receive mentorship and experience different career fields. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Dejahnay Fort, a boom operator assigned to the 91st Air Refueling Squadron, briefs Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets on what to expect during a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft refueling flight at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., June 14, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Dejahnay Fort, a boom operator assigned to the 91st Air Refueling Squadron, briefs Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets on what to expect during a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft refueling flight at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., June 14, 2018. The ROTC cadets observed how a boom operator works and experienced the boom operator pod during a refueling mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets pause for a photo with Chief Master Sgt. Michael Lemond, the superintendent assigned to the 6th Mission Support Group and Airman 1st Class Dejahnay Fort, a boom operator assigned to the 91st Air Refueling Squadron, during a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft incentive flight June 14, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets pause for a photo with Chief Master Sgt. Michael Lemond, the superintendent assigned to the 6th Mission Support Group and Airman 1st Class Dejahnay Fort, a boom operator assigned to the 91st Air Refueling Squadron, during a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft incentive flight June 14, 2018. The ROTC cadets experienced an in-air refueling missions for the first time as a part of Operations Air Force at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Michael Lemond, the superintendent assigned to the 6th Mission Support Group, briefs Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets during a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft incentive flight June 14, 2018, over the Eastern United States.

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Michael Lemond, the superintendent assigned to the 6th Mission Support Group, briefs Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets during a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft incentive flight June 14, 2018, over the Eastern United States. The ROTC cadets participated in a four-hour long KC-135 refueling mission in which they received mentorship during a flying classroom, observed multiple career fields and experienced the day-to-day operations of what it means to be an operational Airman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets pause for a photo with Chief Master Sgt. Michael Lemond, the superintendent assigned to the 6th Mission Support Group, along with KC-135 Stratotanker aircrew at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., June 14, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets pause for a photo with Chief Master Sgt. Michael Lemond, the superintendent assigned to the 6th Mission Support Group, along with KC-135 Stratotanker aircrew at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., June 14, 2018. The ROTC cadets observed in-flight refueling of another KC-135 aircraft to experience MacDill’s mission at work. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Scott Warner)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and U.S. Air Force Academy cadets flew aboard a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft during Operations Air Force, June 14, 2018 at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

For the first time during Operations AF, Team MacDill enabled cadets to experience a flying classroom to gain leadership lessons while over 35,000 feet above ground.

Operations AF is a development program hosted by more than 60 AF bases around the world and provides cadets from all over the nation an opportunity to shadow military members and receive mentorship. Three groups of cadets will experience Operations AF at MacDill over the summer.

“This is a great opportunity to give these cadets a firsthand experience of what it is like to be in the Air Force,” said Capt. Christopher Flaute, the MacDill Operations AF director assigned to the 50th Air Refueling Squadron. “It is also an innovative opportunity to cultivate an educational environment conducive to inspiring these future leaders while answering any questions they may have.”

At MacDill AFB, the cadets had the unique opportunity to not only see the mission in action, but receive leadership insight during a flying classroom on board a KC-135.

While witnessing aerial refueling firsthand, cadets gained senior enlisted leadership perspective from Chief Master Sgt. Michael Lemond, who has served for 27 years and is the 6th Mission Support Group superintendent.

“The reason why MacDill is innovative is because we are investing in experiential learning through incentive flights on an actual military aircraft, which has been unprecedented until recently,” said Lemond.

This opportunity was unique because, after all, how many people can say they’ve been in a classroom at altitudes in excess of 35,000 feet?

“One of the purposes of the flying classroom is to build enthusiasm and interest in [future leaders],” said Flaute. 

In a collaborative effort to provide an all-inclusive experience, the cadets were able to interact with Airmen from various career fields during their two-week stay on base.

“This experience is priceless because it gives insight to careers, skillsets, and the day-to-day operations of Airmen on base in an environment not utilized until now,” said Lemond. “The professional development of future Airmen is extremely important to the Air Force because giving them this opportunity only reinforces their desire to be a part of our family.”

As a result of the four-hour in-air refueling incentive flight, MacDill displayed its unmatched aerial refueling as well as its dedication to developing the nation’s future leaders.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I feel lucky enough to be one of few to be in the cockpit during the flight,” said Cadet 3rd Class Ethan Torres, a student of Detachment 035 at California State University, Fresno. “I’ve never done anything like this before, it is unforgettable and it makes me more invested in my coursework and in the Air Force as a whole after seeing how Airmen contribute to the mission.”