Air Force ROTC beats national selection average of rated positions
By Kaylee Engle
The Aerospace Studies (Air Force ROTC) program within the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University furthered its outstanding reputation by ranking well above the national average for the percentage of cadets selected for rated positions.
On Feb. 7, the Air Force ROTC Detachment 270 at K-State announced the cadets selected for rated positions, which included pilots. Eight of the nine cadets who applied from K-State’s program were selected, all for the position of pilot, beating the national selection average of 79 percent for a rated position and 52 percent for pilots.
“By law, your commanders of an organization that own aircraft has to be a rated officer,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Snowden, head of K-State’s Air Force ROTC program. “At the top of that pecking order of all these rated officers is the pilot.”
To prepare for the Air Force, the cadets partake in a three or four-year training program where they take normal college classes along with ROTC classes and participate in cadet activities.
“They don’t find out what they do for the Air Force until the end of their junior year or the beginning of their senior year. It’s a competitive process,” Snowden said.
The following is considered during the selection process to become a pilot: performance as a cadet, field training, hours logged in a plane, grades, ACT score and physical condition.
K-State’s rich history is where the success of the program begins.
“One of the things I emphasize to the cadets day in and day out is that not only are we the oldest land great university in the nation, but the reason President Lincoln signed the Land Grant Act was because we trained officers,” Snowden said. “So it opened up education to a lot of people and K-State emphasizes that, but I would add into that that it’s also the reason K-State exists, to produce officers and we have for years now.”
The carefully planned progression of the cadets also plays a vital role in the program’s achievements. Freshman year is devoted to leading yourself while sophomore year is more focused on peer leadership utilizing teamwork. After the cadets return from field training that takes place between their sophomore and junior year, they are typically placed in a leadership position in the cadet wing. The experience is rounded out with more of a strategic outlook senior year.
“You get the opportunity to not only lead yourself, but an organization that has everybody involved, those people who are focusing on themselves and those who are focusing on their peers and their small team. By the time they graduate, they have progressed on in different levels of their leadership capabilities,” said Captain Adam McKee, assistant professor of Aerospace Studies, “That’s by design, it’s backed up in what we teach in terms of our academics and really is designed to come to fruition right at the time they’re commissioning to active duty.”
Three of the eight selected pilots are students from K-State Salina where they have the opportunity to receive one-on-one time with instructors and hands-on flying activities.
“A lot of the other schools fly with stimulators but at K-State we actually have a big enough fleet to supply enough planes for the student to fly and train in,” Daison Batangan, recently selected pilot from K-State Salina, said.
K-State Salina students aren’t the only students with aviation experience. Three others showed their commitment to aviation by obtaining a private pilot license, investing their own time and money.
“It shows that they’re driven and they’re putting money where their desires are and actually doing aviation and trying to get their private pilot license. That’s really what jumps off the paper,” McKee said.
The pilots will take what the program instilled in them to the next step, which is undergraduate pilot training. They will spend one year at pilot training and will serve the Air Force with 10 years of service upon its completion.
The selected pilots are: juniors Daison Batangan (K-State Salina), Christian Casey (K-State Salina), Thomas Benson (K-State Salina), Carl Minnix, Harrison Underwood and seniors Christian Maude, Tanner Lott and Hayden Thull.