COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
The Lowndes Young Leaders program visited Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, April 10 for a base tour.
Lowndes Young Leaders is a 12-month leadership program for high school sophomores that live in and attend high school or are homeschooled in Lowndes County, Mississippi. On average, 100 freshman apply for the program but only about 20 percent are selected.
“These young leaders are very bright individuals that care a lot about their future,” said Airman 1st Class Rodney Williams, 14th Operations Support Squadron aviation resource manager. “These tours are very beneficial to the relationship we have with the community. It allows people who don’t know what we do to come and see what it’s like to be an Airman.”
The first stop for the group was the chapel where Capt. Ricardo Torres, 41st Flying Training Squadron assistant chief of training, explained what the base does, highlighting Columbus AFB’s mission to Produce Pilots, Advance Airmen and Feed the Fight.
Next, the young leaders went to the Walker Center to view the 14th Flying Training Wing’s aircraft. While walking around the aircraft, multiple pilots educated the children on what it takes to become an Air Force pilot. The teens walked around and observed the T-6A Texan II, T-1A Jayhawk and the T-38C Talon.
After the static displays, the group was divided in half. One half went to the 14th Operations Group aircraft simulators and the other visited the dormitories and experienced how enlisted members live in addition to having their questions answered about Air Force life during an open panel of Airmen. The simulators gave the young leaders an up close look at what it’s like to fly an aircraft. After about 45 minutes, the two groups switched locations ensuring everyone got the full experience.
The tour ended with a visit to the 14th OSS air traffic control tower and the Radar Approach Control. The high school students were seperated again to ease the process of viewing the active tower and RAPCON. The group watched air traffic controllers direct multiple aircraft in the air andas they taxied down the runway.
“The tour has been an amazing opportunity for these future leaders to see the various opportunities in the Air Force that they can’t get anywhere else,” said Melinda Lowe, Mississippi University for Women director of outreach.