Five from Henley take to the skies; a sixth grad has a shot at it, too
It must be something in the air that helped five 2009 Henley graduates reach a lofty career goal; each of them has been selected to become pilots in the United States Air Force.
The graduates, Shaun Baghott-Salmon, Shane Brouillette, David Carruth, Tyson Snider and Steven Wedan, have cleared their own path toward a common goal. A 2010 graduate, Aaron Bellini, will hear if he’s been selected for a seat in February.
The Henley graduates attribute their mutual interest in flying to several factors but admit that being under the roar of 173rd Fighter Wing’s F-15s didn’t hurt.
“Growing up in Klamath Falls and seeing the jets and seeing their air shows, as a kid, I don’t know, they really appeal to you,” Carruth said. After participating in four years in Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps while in school, Carruth went to the University of Portland to study biochemistry.
He enlisted while in Portland and applied for his specialist assignment. After being turned down for a chemistry position, he earned a missile systems specialty, which Carruth said he was happy with. Then he received notice that he had been selected for a pilot’s seat, which gets him started with training, physical fitness tests and medical evaluations.
Carruth said the military life always appealed to him. He’s engaged to woman whose father was an Air Force pilot and also is enlisting in the Air Force as a nurse. Several of the other 2009 graduates will be his groomsmen at his wedding.
“I’m so happy to be able to go on this adventure with some of my closest friends and to call the Air Force a home,” he said.
Baghott and Brouillette both went to Embry-Riddle University in Prescott, Ariz. Baghott studied aerospace engineering and Brouillette studied space physics.
“It’s really kind of interesting that five guys from one class did it their own way,” Baghott said. “It’s pretty special.”
“I’ve always wanted to serve in some way, ever since I was six-years old,” Brouillette said.
Snider, who is attending Oregon State University, said being around the Oregon Air National Guard base in Klamath Falls inspired him. Once he got a taste of flying, he knew it was what he wanted to do.
Five, possibly six, students from the same graduating class being selected for pilots seats shows the drive of his fellow classmates, Snider said.
“A lot of people talk bad about Klamath, but there are some good people here that influence others.”
Many of the graduates selected for pilot seats have family histories with the military. Steven Wedan holds the closest connections to aviation; his father flew F-15 fighter jets for the 173rd Fighter Wing at Kingsley Field. After graduating, Wedan went to the United States Air Force Academy outside of Colorado Springs, Colo. He plans on making the Air Force his career.
“Pilot slots are hard to come by,” Wedan said. “All these kids are very much on top of everything they’re doing.”