Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

February 11, 2012 at 4:44am

446th Airlift Wing Reserve pilots share eye-opening experience with minority youth

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Ron Limes and Kimberly Scott aren't the first African-American pilots in the Air Force- and their plans are not to be the last.

The lieutenant colonels from the 446th Airlift Wing displayed that goal during a question and answer panel at the 3rd Annual Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson Aerospace Memorial Program Day at the Seattle Museum of Flight, Feb. 4, 2012.

The purpose of the MPA program, also known as "Keep the Dream Alive," is to provide minority students, grades six through nine, exposure to professions in science, engineering, technology, and math through inspiration. But being Citizen Airmen, the colonels also represented the 446th AW as another avenue for the students to take.

"I think serving in the military is honorable," said Limes, who flies out of the 97th Airlift Squadron. "I want to let kids know that. If I can steer a young man or woman toward a life of service to this country, I think it'd very rewarding."

According to Limes, this is only one way to get the Reserve mission out to the public.

"Part of our mission at the 446th is community outreach and this is just one arm of it," said Limes, a pilot with Alaska Airlines in his civilian career. "It's kind of crazy. A lot of people don't even know we're here. We're not only bringing awareness that we're here, but we're also major players who contribute a lot more than people realize. There may be one, two, or three of those kids who will say, 'I can be a Reservist and pursue my civilian career.' There are so many avenues in being a Reservist," he added.

Scott, who flies out of the 728th Airlift Squadron, uses these events to brag about the Reserve as much as she can.

"I really enjoy representing the Air Force Reserve," said Scott, who also flies for Alaska Airlines. "I enjoy my job and enjoy sharing my experience. It's great to share my job with the 446th with young people."

Limes recalls his response to one of the questions during the panel.

"One question was 'what barriers did I have to overcome in my career?'" said the 12-year Reservist. "In the audience we had Tuskegee Airmen, retired general officers, and other African-American military members who had already broken down the (racial) barriers for me. Thankfully, because of them, those paths were already paved for me. My only obstacles were to get it done."
The panel was only a segment of what the day entailed, said Scott, who is only one of two African-American female C-17 Globemaster III pilots in the Air Force.

The youth had the opportunity to learn about who Anderson was, and his vision for reaching out to children in the community, said Scott. Then, they met with aerospace mentors and volunteers, got to learn about space shuttle aviation missions where they got to plan and simulate flight plans, listen to guest speakers from diverse backgrounds, and got to experience the screening of a documentary on the Tuskegee Airmen film, "Red Tails."

"The kids had a private session with Dr. Bernard Harris, a former astronaut," said Scott. "He really engaged with them about how he achieved his dreams, and answered questions about what it is like to travel through space."

Although they weren't able to promote the 446th AW mission as much as they wanted, Limes and Scott feel they still brought awareness to the wing and the experiences of being Reservists.

"I got feedback from a few students who wanted more information on what I do and how I did it," he said. "It sparked more questions about joining the Reserve."

Scott gave the audience an insight of how the pilots balance their military and civilian careers.

"The panel provided audience members with a good understanding of Citizen Airmen, as (Limes) and I discussed how we were in the Reserve and also employees of Alaska Airlines," she said.

In the future, Limes plans on getting more participation from Reservists in the wing.

"Hopefully, we can have more Reserve participation in the future," he said. "We always need volunteers. If we could get Reserve leadership to take part in these events to see what we're doing for community outreach, it would be amazing."

Limes feels Reservists have the obligation to be involved in the community to help shape a better future.

"We touched 60 kids in the community by letting them know they can accomplish their dreams," he said. "My goal is to let them know that professional dreams are available and possible. I think we, as military members, have a responsibility to reach out to kids and this is a great way to do it."

PHOTO: SEATTLE- Both adults and youth who participated in the Keep the Dream Alive event through the Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson Aerospace Program, stand in front of the memorial at the Seattle Museum of Flight, Feb. 4, 2012. One of the activities of the event was the Reaching your Potential Panel which 446th Airlift Wing Reserve pilots, Lt. Col. Ron Limes and Lt. Col. Kim Scott participated in, along with other guests. The purpose of the event was to give youth inspiration and opportunities to achieve their goals, while also bringing awareness to the Air Force Reserve. (photo courtesy of Seattle Museum of Flight)

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