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College of Liberal Arts - Louisiana Tech University

Department of
Professional Aviation

Featured Students

Callie Billingsley

Brock Blackwell

Not many college aviation students started off a day with a one-on-one meeting with a four-star, then toured a flight line of bombers and flew down the "Vegas Strip" in a B-52 simulator. But this one did.

Expected Graduation: Spring 2018

Hometown: Arcadia

Degree: Professional aviation and Spanish, minor in aviation management.

Why did you choose Tech? It's close to home and it has one of the most affordable and high quality aviation programs in the country.

What is your career goal? I hope to fly for a major airline. To do that, I will have to become a flight instructor at Louisiana Tech, build enough flight time, and then join a regional airline.

How did the meeting with Gen. Rand come about? I was fortunate enough to meet Maj. General (Michael) Fortney and Colonel Warren Ward of the Air Force when I went to the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum in Monroe to read my essay and receive my scholarship. Colonel Ward enjoyed my essay and he took it upon himself to arrange my visit to Barksdale Air Force Base. (Ed. note: Maj. General Fortney is the Vice Commander, Gen. Robin Rand is the Commander, and Warren Ward is the deputy chief, programming division. Each is with the Air Force Global Strike Command, Barksdale Air Force Base. The VIP visit, which took several months to coordinate, involved Brock meeting Gen. Rand in his office, then being the guest speaker at the general's weekly senior staff meeting, where Brock presented his essay. He then got a personal tour of a B-52 and the opportunity to "fly" in a simulator.)

Give us the theme of your paper? My essay focused on the abilities, success and motivation of the American Volunteer Group, which was organized by Claire Lee Chennault as a means of deterring Japanese operations in China before America entered World War II. I wrote about how the Flying Tigers were ill-equipped compared to the Japanese plane, but with their American spirit and will power, they were able to repeatedly defeat the Japanese with minimal losses.

What is the American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers) Association and how did you earn the $1,000 scholarship? The Flying Tigers Association is an organization formed by the members and descendants of the American Volunteer Group. They help keep the amazing story of Claire Lee Chennault and the AVG alive today. They chose my essay out of several others from across the nation.

What was the highlight of your Chennault Museum visit? All the people I met, including Nell Calloway, the granddaughter of Claire Lee Chennault and CEO of the Museum; Colonel Warren Ward, who I now consider a personal friend; Congressman Ralph Abraham; and two-star Gen. Fortney, who gave a presentation on the military strength and deterrence of the Air Force.

What will you do with your four-star coin? Right now, my four-star challenge coin from General Rand is in my safe at home, and I will only take it out to show guests to impress them and have a good conversation piece.

Tell us about the personal tour of the B-52 with Lt. Col. James Greenfield: My tour of the B-52 on the ramp at Barksdale was incredible. I was shown the bomb bay and learned all kinds of interesting information about the specifications and abilities of the aircraft. I was also taken to the cockpit and shown all the controls and instruments, some of which were very outdated and from the Cold War Era, and learned a lot of historical information concerning the development and employment of the B-52 in the United States' military operations.

How did you do in the B-52 simulator? The B-52 simulator was incredible. I took off out of Las Vegas and buzzed all the casinos and hotels on the Strip. Then we went over the Hoover Dam, and afterward went near the Grand Canyon at around 200 ft. AGL (above ground level). I was then set up for an ILS (instrument landing system) approach at Barksdale Air Force Base. I did very well, but when it came time for the roundout and flare (pitching the nose up just before landing), I didn't use enough up trim and my landing was flat. But I was told that I did better than some of the actual students in the B-52 sim so I'm pretty proud