News | June 16, 2017

Academy cadets tour Beale operations

By Senior Airman Tara R. Abrahams 940th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Eleven Air Force Academy cadets flew on a KC-135 Stratotanker air refueling trainer mission June 9 as part of their Ops Air Force tour.


All third-year cadets are allotted time at Air Force bases to observe and explore prospective career fields. The graduating class of 2019 was split into groups of 10 to 15 and sent to bases around the world for two weeks.


One of the stops for Beale’s group was with the 314th Air Refueling Squadron of the Air Force Reserve’s 940th Air Refueling Wing. The cadets were brought on a flight to watch the Stratotanker refuel F-16C Fighting Falcons from the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, 21,000 feet in the air.


The tour allowed the cadets to connect with the operational Air Force. It provided the cadets the opportunity to learn about base functions and careers they are interested in, as well as some positions they may not have considered.


“It opened up the pilot sector,” said Cadet 2nd Class Sonya Kang. “I never really considered it…but now it’s an option.”


Kang was most interested in becoming a psychologist, but also looking into flying remotely piloted aircraft. She opened her mind to other aircraft after spending time at Beale, with both the Reserve and active-duty flying squadrons.


“Cadets usually just think about mainstream aircraft,” she said. “We don’t really think about high-altitude planes, so this tour helped me think about those kinds of planes and their availability in terms of careers.”


Some cadets were already planning to pursue careers in the air. Cadet 2nd Class Austin Box said he is most interested in the F-15E Strike Eagle and the C-17 Globemaster III, but is willing to fly anything. The Ops Air Force tour helped solidify that dream, he said.


“It definitely emphasized me wanting to be a pilot. One of the coolest parts was looking at the F-16 and having that perspective, thinking ‘that could be me one day.’”