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Goggles and propellers equal fun for students

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- On March 22-23, more than 1,300 students descended upon Dobbins
Air Reserve Base to experience an opportunity many of their families and friends may never have unless they’re members of the military. 

The students were cadets of the Air Force, Army and Navy Junior
Reserve Officer Training Corps programs from various high schools within and outside of the Atlanta area. The event is the annual Junior ROTC orientation flights. 

Along with the roar of jet propellers and backblast of the engines,
94th Airlift Wing volunteers and the 700th Airlift Squadron crew members contributed to the experience and safety of the students’ first flight on a C-130 aircraft. 

“This is a great opportunity to experience something new,” said Cadet Staff Sgt. Patricia Henderson of Riverdale High School. “I’m seriously considering joining the Air Force.” 

“I enjoyed the turbulence,” said Cadet Maj. Matt McDade, a senior at Monroe High School. “One minute you feel heavy, the next minute you feel like you’re floating.” 

“Students participating in this event have the opportunity to witness the positive aspects of the military such as teamwork and attention to detail while enjoying an experience of a lifetime,” said retired Air Force Lt. Col. James William, senior aerospace science instructor at Tucker High School. The students’ “experience of a lifetime” was reinforced with the static displays of the 94th Security Forces Squadron and 94th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and the 94th Airlift Wing Base Honor Guard demonstrations. 

The 94th Recruiting Squadron conducted presentations on opportunities in the Air Force Reserve. The weather team at Base Operations also contributed to the students experience with briefings regarding the weather mission. 

“Ninety percent of the students have never flown before their C-130 orientation flight,” said retired Army Maj. Larry Moyers, senior Army instructor at Campbell High School. “It’s good for the students to receive a diversity of exposure regarding military experience. 

Each presentation and interaction from the Dobbins family contributed to the successful visit of the students. 

“Many students don’t know what they want to do with their lives,” said Staff Sgt. Stephanie Strickland, 94th AES medical technician. “The military provides an opportunity for direction and getting a feel for something bigger than themselves.” 

“We work to make the students’ safety briefing a fun event,” said Tech. Sgt. Brian Williams, 700th AS loadmaster. “An audience doesn’t retain information from a boring presentation. We ensure the students are aware of safety issues and emergency procedures before they enter the flightline.” 

“We plant seeds of awareness into the cadets during our presentation,” said 1st Lt. Patrick Bass, 94th Recruiting Squadron senior recruiter. “The static displays, the people who work with the equipment in those displays let the students know that they have options after high school. It’s a challenge to fit the many opportunities of the Air Force Reserve into a few minutes. But it is well worth the effort to meet and greet future members of the military.”