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MacDill inspires Tampa students during AIM HIGH flight

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shannon Bowman
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The 6th Air Refueling Wing hosted four students ages 16-17 and eight administrators with the Hillsborough County School District (HCDS) on a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft orientation flight Dec. 9 at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

The students witnessed first-hand a Total Force air refueling training mission over Alabama involving a 6th ARW’s KC-135 and four F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to the Alabama Air National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing, Dannelly Field, Alabama.

“Today was an amazing day and I got to experience something new,” said Khari Anglin, a senior at Newsome High School. “It was incredible to see how the pilots are able to communicate and work together to get the job done.”

The KC-135 orientation flight was part of the Air Force Recruiting Service’s Aviation Inspiration Mentorship (AIM) High program which provides students hands-on flying training from experienced U.S. Air Force aviators and mentors.

These aviators and mentors also provided the students with information about aviation careers, flying opportunities and their experiences as Air Force aviators.

Before the flight, the students were greeted by Air Force Gen. Mike Minihan, commander of Air Mobility Command, Maj. Gen. Thadd Bibb, 18th Air Force commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Brian P. Kruzelnick, AMC command chief, who explained AMC’s global reach mission and the need for Airmen with diverse backgrounds and experiences that are crucial to adapting to future threats.

“Our team is comprised of people from all corners of America so for the students here today, I need you in the Air Force to make us better,” Minihan said. “We have a duty to make our country better and I need you in the Air Force to help make me better and to help make my teammates better.”

According to Michael McAuley, HCSD chief of staff, having the opportunity to fly on a KC-135 to expose his students to potential aviation careers in the Air Force was truly a highlight of his career.

“Getting to see their faces after our students went into the boom pod of the KC-135 was amazing,” McAuley said. “It’s critical for our students to see first-hand some of the different career paths available to them. We are thankful to MacDill for having this level of engagement with our schools and for inviting our students and staff to participate in this flight.” 

For the aircrew assigned to the 91st Air Refueling Squadron, highlighting their job specialties to these students was a rewarding opportunity. Maj. Christopher Daniels, a pilot with the 91st ARS, offered his advice to these prospective Airmen.

“By showing these students what I do as a pilot, I get to show them that careers in aviation are attainable if that’s what they truly want to do in their life,” Daniels said. “Don’t shy away from competition, and take pride and excellence in all you do, that includes your grades, athletics, work and activities.”

Through aviation career experiences with the AIM High program and by fostering strong community relationships, Team MacDill is committed to building an agile and diverse force to inspire future leaders. 

“MacDill has an incredible community relationship with the school districts in the Tampa Bay area,” said Col. Ben Jonsson, 6th ARW commander. “They support our families and children, and this effort to give students opportunities to explore career paths in the Air Force is going to continue to take us to the next level.”