SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- --
Many associate being in the Air Force with serving as a pilot or working with aircraft, however, thanks to Schriever’s Single Airmen’s Initiative, space Airmen such as Senior Airman Cameron Crabtree, mission planner with the 4th Space Operations Squadron, have the opportunity take the reins of an Aircraft – for free.
The SAI “Discovery Flight” program sends Airmen to Colorado Spring’s Aviation located at Meadow Lake Airport in Peyton, Colorado, where they undergo a 30 minute airplane fundamentals briefing and safety inspection before soaring into the air in a single engine airplane, taking control of the plane mid-flight above the skies (an experienced instructor accompanying the participant controls the plane during takeoff and landing).
Crabtree, an aspiring pilot, said the experience was second-to-none and helped boost his passion for piloting.
“It (Discovery Flight) was one of the greatest things I’ve ever done,” Crabtree said. “I was surprised how hands on it was.”
He said his instructors were professional and informative during the pre-briefing and flight.
“I was a little nervous starting off, but the instructors were incredibly helpful,” Crabtree said. “It’s like a driver’s education class, he’s right next to you and can take over the controls anytime.”
Discovery Flight is only one of many free SAI activities. Other events include hunting, painting and snowmobiling. To be part of the program, you must be a single (not married) officer or enlisted Airman.
Seth Cannello, fitness and sports manager with the 50th Force Support Squadron, said he encourages all those eligible to participate in the plethora of exciting – and often otherwise expensive – SAI activities.
“There’s so many outdoor activities to do in Colorado,” he said. “This program allows someone to try something they might not ordinarily do with a group of people with some common background.”
Crabtree agreed, saying SAI is a resource that can’t be overlooked.
“It’s (SAI program events) something that’s offered to us and it’s a privilege we can do all this fun stuff,” he said. “It’s free and it’s fun and you should definitely take advantage of it.”
Thanks to SAI, Crabtree said he fulfilled his dream without spending a dime.
“Flying the plane was surreal, you feel totally free,” he said. “The view was great. This was the final push to get me to go out and truly pursue piloting.”
While the current Discovery Flight roster is full, Cannello anticipates another event in the future and has more events lined up throughout the year.
He stressed his message encouraging Airmen to seek SAI opportunities.
“Why not? It’s free and if you want to do something you’ve never done before you have the opportunity to do it,” he said. “Plus, you can spend time with your fellow Airmen.”
For more information about SAI events, contact the fitness center at 567-6628.