Major Ross Dragon, Captain Dean Hall and Captain Dmitri Mitchell, US Air Force Pilots Share Wisdom During STEM Fly-at RDU General Aviation Terminal
Every now and then, we see things in life that are simply larger than life. For those of us who were at the Raleigh Durham International General Aviation Terminal on Saturday, February 25th, we had such an experience.
There before us, stood Black pilots. Pilots who protected our country in battle flying C17 cargo planes, F15 jets, and the Chief of the 479th Air Force Flying Team who prepares other military professionals to fly. Yes, during this Black History Month Celebration, we beamed with pride listening to these men share their awesome STEM journeys with us. They discussed how people doubted their resolve to become a pilot. Major Ross Dragon shared with the audience, ‘When I was eight year old, I told my Mom I wanted to become a pilot. I did everything I needed to do to become a pilot too. Now I sit in the cockpit of this awesome machine, the F15, to protect and serve my country.” Please visit to hear more about Major Dragon’s story and learn about his education preparation to become a pilot.
Captain Dean Hall said to the audience,"When I was in the sixth grade, I was not focused on what was important. I spent too much time listening to the haters. I did not prepare and I let others determine my future all the way into the 12th grade. You can do whatever you focus on accomplishing in life. There may be situations where you may be the only Black person in the room. Just know, if you stay focused on your goals, understand what you need to do, be committed, you will achieve your dreams! I was just like many of you. Listen, if you work hard, have people supporting you, you can do some VERY COOL things in the world. I provided security services for former President Obama in Vietnam. I have flown to every continent except Antarctica. High school counselors would tell me what I could not do in life, what I could not be in life. Do not ever let someone else tell you what you cannot do and be in life. Make the haters your stepping stones."
During the STEM Fly-In, we saw that situation play out right before our eyes. One of Captain Hall’s former students attended the STEM Fly-In. There he was, in uniform and did not pass all the aviation requirements under Captain Hall several months ago. One can say, the pilot failed...But as the saying goes, the only time in life something is a failure is when you choose to do nothing about it. The pilot dusted himself off and he is determined to achieve his goal to sit in the cockpit of a F15. The young aviator is now close to achieving his goal. He smiled and said to Captain Hall during the presentation, "You failed me with a chuckle." Captain Hall retorted, "No in Flight School, I didn't fail you, you failed to get the grade." This was quite a lesson for the young folks in the audience. ACCOUNTABILITY 101 that applies to anything one wants to achieve in life. Honesty, Integrity and Trust are critical constructs in life. Captain Hall shared with the students, “This morning, before leaving Pensacola, I had to rely on the mechanic to repair my plane. He gave me thumbs up and here I am with you. You can be anything you want to be if you have the right attitude, desire, integrity and network around you. You have to believe in yourselves. Dream BIG and hang with people who are going places not with people who are always negative. That may be tough, but you want people who will support you and not bring you down. It's funny, when I fly planes and people look at the aircraft, very seldom do they think I have flown the plane or I am the leader of the team. While it is unfortunate people don't see many Blacks in these roles, take advantage of what Knowledge Is Power offers you. I believe in you, your parents and teachers believe in you, Mr. Copeland believes in you, but most importantly, you have to believe in yourselves. One day, you will be one of the STEM professionals you have met at through this awesome program," said Captain Hall. Learn more about Captain Hall's journey
(L to R) Captain Booker, Captain Mitchell, 1 Lt. Jensen, Captain Hall and Major Dragon with students.
Captain Hall shares his STEM journey.
Major Dragon describes G-force on the body.