Siblings, wingmen take flight

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, South Carolina -- Two pilots here, share more than a workplace, they share blood.

Capt. Gary Whiteman, 14th AS C-Flight assistant flight commander, and his sister 1st Lt. Kristina Whiteman, 14th AS liaison officer, are both U.S. Air Force Academy graduates and C-17 Globemaster III pilots.

“Being a Whiteman sibling comes with an expectation of being a hard worker and doing an excellent job,” said Kristina Whiteman. “It’s an expectation I often try to exceed.”

Gary, Kristina and their middle brother, Brent, a former U.S. Air Force contracting officer, grew up close as children in Scottsdale, Arizona. Their family was active in the community. With no military veteran in their immediate family, the Whiteman siblings haven’t always aspired to military service.

“My siblings and I grew up as the best of friends,” said Gary Whiteman. “We had a lot of the same friends growing up who we still keep in contact with today.”

While at the Air Force academy, Gary Whiteman played baseball with his brother, and Kristina Whiteman played soccer. However, once they committed to their careers as pilots, flying became a priority over athletics.

“Once I joined the glider program at the Academy, I fell in love with flying,” said Gary Whiteman. “Although baseball was my passion, flying started to take over.”

During pilot training, Gary and Kristina Whiteman decided cargo aircraft, rather than fighter aircraft, was the most appropriate fit for them because they liked the idea of flying with a crew.

“I am a huge fan of the crew concept,” said Kristina Whiteman. “You aren’t flying solo. You have your own family wherever you go.”

For Kristina Whiteman, the bar had been set high with her brother’s Gary's excellent reputation throughout his pilot training. She had no intentions of turning their similar career paths into a sibling rivalry. She would rather uphold the legacy that comes with the Whiteman name.

“Gary has built a great reputation for our family,” said Kristina Whiteman. “I want to do better and make him proud I’m his sister."

Many factors aligned to create Gary and Kristina Whiteman’s situation. Very few people have the opportunity to work side-by-side with their sibling as a pilot in the Air Force.

“We get to represent both family and country every day we put on the uniform and head into work for the greatest Air Force the world has ever seen,” said Kristina.