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America’s Airlift Wing holds inaugural AIM Wing event

Members of the Red-Tailed Hawks Youth Program sit inside a U.S. Army UH-60M Blackhawk during the Aviation Inspiration and Mentorship (AIM) Wing event at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, April 16, 2022. Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Charles Casner

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - The 62nd Airlift Wing partnered with the Red-Tailed Hawks Flying Club, a local STEM aviation program sponsored by the Black Pilots of America, to hold the first-ever Aviation Inspiration and Mentorship (AIM) Wing event at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, April 16.

With its recent designation as an AIM Wing, the 62nd AW targeted the Air Force's Rated Diversity Improvement Strategy to attract, recruit, develop and retain a diverse rated corps.

"The AIM program is about going out and informing, influencing and inspiring underrepresented, underserved youth toward aviation and aviation-based careers," said Maj. Shaler Mortensen, 62nd AW Commander's Action Group chief. "The AIM program really encourages us to go out there, provide an immersive experience for the kids and let them see what we do here."

During the full-day event, 68 members of the Red-Tailed Hawks Youth Program received an opportunity to get up close to a C-17 Globemaster III and learn about the 62nd AW's global airlift mission.

Col. David Fazenbaker, 62nd AW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Arce, 62nd AW command chief, welcomed the Red-Tailed Hawks and provided the mission brief.

"I really appreciate you taking the time to be with us," Fazenbaker said. "We hope that you have some fun as we show you our mission and some of the amazing stuff that's out there."

The Red-Tailed Hawks visited the air traffic control tower, 62nd Maintenance Group, the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron's warehouse and the McChord Passenger Terminal. Members of the 627th Security Forces Squadron and 22nd Special Tactics Squadron also showcased their mission as well as their gear.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army's I Corps Aviation and 16th Combat Aviation Brigade also gave a tour of their helicopters. Finally, the Red-Tailed Hawks also visited the recently opened McChord Air Museum.

The tour was mostly staffed by minority airmen and soldiers who wanted to show the students that they could overcome barriers to achievement within the military.

"We are excited to be here," said Jesse Hayes, Red-Tailed Hawks Youth Program president. "We are glad that McChord and the leadership has welcomed us back."

Hayes said that the AIM Wing event coincides with the Red-Tailed Hawks' goal of exposing underserved and underrepresented students to every aspect of the aviation and aerospace industry.

"(This) is really the bread and butter of what we try to do," Hayes said. "Our hope is they get excited about something that they see."

According to Mortensen, AIM Wing is an outreach program designed to promote recruitment in the underserved student population as well as educate and showcase the different opportunities that the military and aviation can provide. It supports community engagement with a mission to inform, influence and inspire the next generation of Air Force aviators.

"We want to show these opportunities to underrepresented students," he said. "We want them to believe that incredible opportunities and careers are available to them and we need their talents. The Air Force needs creative thinkers with a different point of view and new ideas to help tackle the challenges we face."

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