104th Operations Group Airman Selected to Become Pilot

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Randy Burlingame
  • 104th Fighter Wing

Senior Airman Calvin Cooper, 104th Operations Group airfield management shift leader, was recently selected to become a pilot at the 104th Fighter Wing.


Cooper’s known he wanted to be a pilot ever since he started to seriously think about what he wanted to do with his life, he said. He believes working around the pilots at the 104th Fighter Wing over the last four years has helped him build relationships and become comfortable with the culture.


“Being in operations, and being a pilot candidate, especially, it’s a different schematic,” said Cooper. “It’s the highest visibility for an Airman. They’re going to get to know you as you, which is probably the best thing at the end of the day.”


Chief Master Sgt. Brian Mapel, 104th OG airfield manager, said airfield management Airmen get to interact with the pilots every day. They are able to see their mannerisms and work ethic. Cooper displays many of the same traits, he said.

“His work ethic is very strong,” said Mapel. “He definitely has those qualities. He’s very detailed.”

Cooper said the thing that initially sparked his interest to become a pilot goes back to his freshman year of college at the University of Delaware. He lived on a dormitory floor with Reserve Officer’s Training Corps students and had a friend who was a pilot, he said.


“That kind of got the ball rolling,” said Cooper. “I really liked the idea of being in the military, too. Especially with the mission that we have and the standards that are upheld for us as military members.”


Self-discipline, physical fitness, good career progression and the opportunity to see the world were all additional reasons for Cooper to join the military, he said.


Cooper worked toward obtaining his private pilot license after enlisting into the Massachusetts Air National Guard to ensure he would be comfortable flying.


“I took a different path,” said Cooper. “I wanted to be in the guard. You have the opportunity to deploy and see the world, but you also can come back to home base in Western Mass.”


Cooper said he was deployed as part of a Theater Security Package in Romania when he found out he was selected to become a pilot.


“As soon as it happened, I was ecstatic,” said Cooper. “I’m very excited for the next step of my life.”