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Flying classrooms: teaching future leaders in the air

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Adam R. Shanks
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE — The ability to partner with local and state officials to provide unique educational opportunities for students is paramount to the growth and success of Air Mobility Command.

While many opportunities involve a schoolhouse classroom, some new and very unique opportunities exist at an altitude in excess of 35,000 feet.

More than 20 Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets with Detachment 640 from Miami University, Ohio, travelled from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, to MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, to receive an in-flight leadership course, March 19, 2018 and attend STEAM Day hosted at MacDill, March 21, 2018.

During their flight aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, the cadets participated in leadership exercises, and received mentorship from Senior Master Sgt. Byron Hayes, the career assistance advisor assigned to the 6th Force Support Squadron at MacDill.

“Cadets have a lot on their plates while going through AFROTC; they’re juggling collegiate schoolwork, while maintaining their goal of commissioning in the Air Force,” said Hayes. “Opportunities like this do not happen very often, and it’s amazing to see cadets get immersed in what the Air Force has to offer, and allow them to experience its capabilities up close.”

Hayes went on to explain the importance of learning from senior-enlisted leaders as newly commissioned officers, which was shared by Lt. Col. Jeff Guttman, the operations officer with Detachment 640.

“The cadets learned that as brand new second lieutenants, they should lean on their senior NCOs for guidance,” said Guttman. “Those men and women know their craft well and are glad to help shape new officers into great leaders for the future.”

Additionally, this event marks the first time an Air Mobility Command Wing has utilized the “flying classroom” setting for one of their courses.

"Air Mobility Command is committed to working with schools to advance the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics skill sets. These skills are foundational to success as an Air Force and nation,” said Gen. Carlton Everhart II, commander of AMC. “We want to partner with schools to help share our experiences and let students know that if they work hard, there is a place for them on our team.

"Partnering with schools to develop everything from classrooms in the sky, to getting our Airmen into school classrooms, will build interest and enthusiasm in our Air Force."

This partnership between the Air Force and schools was highlighted when the 6th Air Mobility Wing hosted its third-annual STEAM Day, which invited local schools and organizations to explore the many career options the Air Force provides. STEAM, adds arts to the popular science, technology, engineering and math programs around the world.

 “Miami University began as a liberal arts school, but over the years, engineering and other scientific-based programs have worked their way into action,” said Guttman. “Quite a few of our cadets are pursuing an engineering degree, and with this opportunity for them to interact with Airmen who do amazing things every day is a priceless experience.

“Most of the cadets on this trip are underclassmen, who might not know what they want to do, so being able to witness the vast amounts of career fields the Air Force has to offer, gives them a better idea of what’s to come and sparks their excitement.”

One freshman cadet from Detachment 640, Duncan Burke, showed his excitement throughout the event.

“I’ve never flown on a C-17, let alone a military aircraft, so it was amazing to be a part of that,” said Burke. “I saw this trip as a great way to experience the Air Force, and I will definitely hold on to the lecture that was given to us.”