Robins captain selected for coveted pilot training program

  • Published
  • By Holly Birchfield
  • 78 ABW/PA
Capt. Jack Rhodes's dream of becoming a pilot started in the fourth grade when he first visited the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. He knew then his passion would take him to the sky.

"I visited the Academy and fell in love with it," he said. "I set my goal back then and said, 'I want to go there one day.'"

Nearly 16 years later, Captain Rhodes, an instructor air weapons officer for Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System aircraft in the 330th Combat Training Squadron, 116th Air Control Wing, is getting a chance to realize his dream of taking flight through the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training program.

The 26-year-old officer, who graduated from the Air Force Academy in May 2003, is one of 32 officers Air Force-wide to be accepted into the undergraduate pilot program.

He will begin the program at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., in November.

"It's exciting," Captain Rhodes said. "I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a lot of training. I definitely like the challenge. Just being able to do the flying is going to make it fun I think."

The captain said he knows the training will be a lot of hard work, but plans to be a leader among his SUPT peers.

"I expect it to be tough," he said. "You've got to give it everything you've got. Every day, you've got to make sure you get in the books and study and make sure the people around you also are able to do the same things you are and that you're able to do the same things they are. Everyone relies on each other, and it's a team effort. That's the kind of things you have to do in today's Air Force."

Lt. Col. Kevin Clotfelter, 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron commander, who was Captain's Rhodes's commander before he made a permanent change of assignment to the 330th CTS about a month ago, said Captain Rhodes's acceptance into the SUPT is a great opportunity.

"I think it's well deserved," he said. "I had the privilege of flying with Captain Rhodes on an aircrew in 2006 and then I had the privilege of becoming his commander. I deployed with him this past year, so I've been able to observe him as a crewman and also as someone working for me."

Colonel Clotfelter said Captain Rhodes's experience as an aircrew member will take him far in the SUPT program.

Lt. Col. Joseph Richardson, director of operations in the 128th ACCS, encouraged Captain Rhodes to apply to the SUPT program. He said he wishes the captain well on his next adventure.

"I think this is great for Jack," he said. "It's going to be great for our Air Force too. He is an extremely sharp individual, very professional, very capable. I'm glad to see him get this opportunity."