A ‘major’ change in my life

  • Published
  • By Maj. David Williams
  • 14th Student Squadron Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 16-05

I grew up seeing the wonder of aviation as a boy through my father who was an Air Force maintainer.

Watching an aircraft slip to the skies has always been majestic and incredible to witness and I knew I wanted to experience it.

In college, I joined Reserve Officer Training Corps and looked at becoming a pilot. Unfortunately, I found out my eye sight would prevent it. However, I did manage to qualify as a navigator. Although not quite what I wanted, this was a step closer to my dream, so I took it.

While in navigator training at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, I received 20 hours of private civilian flying. I paid for the rest and obtained my private pilot license. After graduating training, I headed to Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, as an E-3 navigator. In my spare time, I furthered my civilian flying by obtaining an instrument and commercial rating using my G.I. Bill. I also obtained an eye sight waiver and applied to a Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training board as a navigator; I didn’t make it.

Despite not making it in, my hard work thus far opened the door of Remote Piloted Aircraft and I proudly walked through it. Yet another step closer to being a military pilot. I was one of approximately 106 navigators to cross the bridge into the RPA world. I worked hard as an RQ-4 pilot, furthering its mission to the best of my abilities.

In 2012, I switched to a full time reservist, still flying the RQ-4. In 2013 my reserve unit got news it was switching to KC-135 and my boss asked if I wanted to try for SUPT. At the age of 37 and as a major. If I did nothing, I was guaranteed nothing; I submitted a package yet again, hoping for the best.

This time my package and waiver had to go up to a lieutenant general at Air Force headquarters, just shy of Gen. Mark Welsh. In December 2014 I received his response, telling me due to all the hard work I put into my career, I earned going to SUPT. Working hard and never giving up led me to my dream and the new set of wings I proudly wear today.