SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.- --
The Air Force is accustomed to reaching new heights. Heights, such as retired Brig. Gen. Charles Elwood “Chuck” Yeager’s first flight to exceed the speed of sound, and Gen. Benjamin O’ Davis Jr. becoming the first African-American four-star general in the Air Force, symbolize the historical impact the Air Force has made throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.
In keeping with this tradition, a Schriever Airman will reach new heights and make his own impact in Air Force history.
Staff Sgt. Ryan Reavis, 50th Operations Support Squadron, is the first Air Force Space Command Airman to be confirmed for induction into the Enlisted Pilot Cadre Selection program. EPIC is a program that allows, for the first time since World War II, enlisted Air Force personnel to be formally trained as pilots.
For Reavis, achieving this new height all started with a whimsical decision to toss his hat in the pool of potential selectees.
“I saw the email which said that they were looking for enlisted Airmen pilots and thought ‘hey might as well try’,” said Reavis. “I thought it would be something different, something fun to do.”
To say the EPIC program will be something different for Reavis may be an understatement.
From instructing at a space base without a flight line, to learning how to pilot aircraft on his own, the changes Reavis will undergo will be drastic.
In his journey towards selection, Reavis had to accomplish several tasks, including mastering flight simulators, completing qualification tests and medical examinations. However, he was greatly abetted by the support of fellow 50 OSS Airmen who saw his potential and helped him through the arduous process.
“The vetting process was very extensive,” said Chief Master Sgt. David Pesch, 50 OSS group superintendent. “I believed Staff Sgt. Reavis had the aptitude, attitude and performance to be successful.”
Lt. Col. Timothy Purcell, 50 OSS commander, agrees with Pesch’s sentiment.
“He demonstrates the professionalism, the operational expertise and focus the EPIC program needs,” said Purcell. “He’s the right guy to be selected for this program. He’s breaking down barriers, and we (50 OSS) are all proud of him.”
When the news reached Reavis he had been selected, he was more relieved than surprised.
“It was a long process,” sighed Reavis. “I wasn’t really surprised, my squadron helped out a lot and kept me informed.”
Now, Reavis has a very different future. After arriving at his new base, Reavis will undergo real time flight training, piloting a small commercial aircraft, before his official training with the RQ-4 Global Hawk-the reconnaissance drone all enlisted Airman selected will be tasked to operate.
“I’m excited to get some flight time, to learn a new set of skills and all the aspects of flying, and get started on my career,” said Reavis.
The inclusion of enlisted Airmen in a traditionally officer-dominated career field draws parallels to the Air Force Space Command’s days of officer exclusivity.
“More than two decades ago, enlisted members were selected for space operations right here at Schriever (then Falcon Air Force Station), which at that time was exclusively an officer job,” said Pesch. “The EPIC program is another step in that direction for our professional enlisted force.”
While the program is still new for these enlisted pioneers, there is speculation the enlisted force will be flying armed drones in the near future. One thing that is certain is Reavis will be making history in the process.
“Reavis will be writing history in our modern day, which, in my opinion, is incredible,” said Pesch. “We have confidence that he will make the entire Air Force enlisted force proud.”
For more information about the EPIC program, go to