The Blog of the West Wind

The Blog of the West Wind

Kabeyun Alum Flying High in U.S. Air Force Training

Thursday, October 22, 2020/by Laura Remington/Go Back

Kabeyun Alum Flying High in U.S. Air Force Training

Michael Brockey is flying high.

The 25-year old former Kabeyun counselor and camper is now more than half-way through his training to become an Air Force fighter pilot.

When Michael left Kabeyun in August 2019, he headed to Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma, where he remains today. The second lieutenant has mastered the T-6 and now is flying the T-38, a trainer fighter jet he calls “the fun one.” The photo above shows Michael during his initial solo flight in a T-38 earlier this month.

Campers and staff will remember the tremendous creativity Michael brought to Kabeyun’s Nature program: coded messages and maps, treasures buried beneath land and lake, survival shirts, fish traps, and glow-in-the-dark “chonks” that purportedly fell from an asteroid. Michael got to unleash some of that creativity in his first four months at Vance, working in the Spark Cell innovation center while he waited to start his pilot training.

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“I worked on virtual reality simulators. Specifically, with aerospace numerical simulation, to help develop programming of jets’ trajectories in different situations. I created a plug-in that essentially helps pilots practice formation flying. It lets them fly against a ghost plane.”

Through the innovation work, Michael got lots of time in the simulator, practicing formation flying, something the Air Force seeks in its fighter pilots. Competing against 30 classmates, Michael earned one of just four spots to train as a fighter pilot. Others are learning to fly tanker aircraft and helicopters.

For now, creativity takes a back seat to a steady grind of Air Force academics and practice flights. Michael is happy to live on base in a simple studio -- which includes a display of Kabeyun mementos -- where he can stay focused on his work.

“Right now, I just have to learn,” Michael says. “I’m not in a position where I can innovate or create things because I just do not know it all.”

Long term, he would like to return to innovation, as a specialist who practices against F-22’s and F-15’s, understands the strategies employed against U.S. fighter jets, and develops ways to counteract them.

"That's where creativity is truly needed. That's where I want to get to."

Michael is just one of the extraordinary young people who grew up at Kabeyun and then became counselors. You can learn more about all our outstanding staff members here.

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