By Cadet Brandon Kauling
Choosing to become an F-22 Raptor fighter pilot as my dream job might seem like it wouldn’t have taken a whole lot of thought, but I assure you that more went into it than I just had the “need for speed”.
Determining an occupation can be a very in-depth and important selection in a young individual’s life, and I was no different in the matter. For some, the choice can be an impulsive decision or even a dream from an early age, although it will undoubtedly influence the major forthcoming events in his/her life.
Not a single person in my family, or anyone I directly knew, for that matter, had ever been affiliated with any sort of aviation or the military. It is easy to say then, that when I made the decision, it was quite unique. The choice for me to join aviation absolutely happened to me by chance, and I am already certain it was the correct one.
While in my younger years I never gave much thought into what I wanted to do with the remainder of my life, though I most certainly did not want a typical boring desk job. I have always had a natural ability for driving and operating machinery and vehicles. I loved the outdoors, and enjoyed adrenaline rushes. I knew that I wanted the occupation I chose to suit these characteristics because above all, I want to enjoy every moment of what I do. I do not want to just work for a salary.
There was one thing that had always been certain in my life though: the fact that every time I saw a military member or when a military commercial came on the television, there was almost an involuntary reaction that made me stop everything I was doing at that moment. It would always send chills through my body. As time went on I knew that at one point or another, I would be a service member.
The idea formed when I began touring colleges. I was initially looking into an engineering degree, as I have always had an out-of-the-box style of thinking and an interest in designing and construction. After touring a few other schools I decided to look at Saint Louis University. During the tour of their aerospace engineering degree, the tour guide, who was actually an extremely down-to-earth janitor from the university, informed me that there was actually a degree to learn how to become a professional pilot.
This was when I realized precisely what I wanted to do for a living. The deeper I delved into the Flight Science degree at SLU, the more my decision was reassured. I was then informed of the prestigious AFROTC program at the university, thus forming my dream job right in front of my eyes. I would have a chance to become a pilot and defend the greatest country known to man in some of the most impressive aircraft currently in aviation. Which aircraft that is to be, is yet to be known. Ultimately, I want to fly a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and/or become an Air Force Thunderbird, although I would certainly not complain with any fighter or heavy Air Force aircraft.
It is always there, in the back of my mind, the feeling that it is my calling to be a part of aviation through the Air Force. It is beyond a reasonable doubt that it is exactly what I am meant to do.
- Learn more about SLU’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 207