An Interview with Ocean City Air Show Pilot- Major Kristin Wolfe

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Katherine Ruskey: Hi guys. I am Katie with oceanity.com and today we are thrilled to have Major Kristin Wolfe with us, who is one of the talented pilots that will be seeing this weekend in Ocean City’s air show, Saturday, and Sunday, June 10th, and 11th. Major- thank you for joining us today.

Kristin W: Of course, thanks for having me.

Katherine Ruskey: I want to know and everybody wants to know what kind of planes do you plan on flying this weekend?

Kristin W:  So we fly the F 35A model, so the latest and greatest fifth generation stealth fighter, the Air Force variant.

Katherine Ruskey: Is that something that you fly often? Is it just a special occasion where you get to fly this?

Kristin W: Yeah, it’s my full-time job. So I’ve been flying the F35 for about six years now and then doing the actual air show gig for about four years. So we travel around the country, sometimes the world with this airplane, to kind of show it off in air shows and make people excited about it.

Katherine Ruskey:  Very cool. So is this something that you’ve always wanted to do, like growing up you’re like- I have to be a pilot.

Kristin W:  Not really, my dad was actually a fighter pilot in the Air Force as well. So I was born on the Air Force base. He was still in the Air Force when I actually joined. So you kind of say this is my blood but I really didn’t think about joining until college age actually.

Katherine Ruskey: So before that, what did you want to be?

Kristin W:  I had a lot of things, you know, Doctor was up on the list, veterinarian. I actually studied engineering in college…

Katherine Ruskey: Everybody wants to be a veterinarian at one point. I feel So…

Kristin W:  Yep.

Katherine Ruskey: How do you go to school to be a pilot in the Air Force? Like what is that like? What are the trainings like? How many years do you have to train?

Kristin W: Yeah, yeah, there’s a couple ways but you need to have a bachelors degree to get selected pilot training. I did ROTC, while I was in college, you can also go to the Air Force Academy or you can get your bachelors and then join later. But the cool part about the Air Force is a year pilot training in general. But you could have zero experience all the way up to, you know, be an airline pilot and join and go through the exact same training pipeline, pretty much.

Katherine Ruskey:  Wow.

Kristin W: So that was me, I was on the three hours of experience, but they take you a whole year of pilot training and then fighter jet training. After that, it’s your specific airplane.

Katherine Ruskey: Very cool. Very cool. What’s the best part about being a pilot?

Kristin W: There’s a lot of cool parts. I like the camaraderie of this squadron. Getting to travel around is one of the most awesome things, especially in this job that I’m in. Now, with air shows getting to go to places. You never probably would have gone to or places uou’ve always dreamed about going, but maybe didn’t want to pay for that yourself on a vacation. So that’s probably some of the cool parts about it.

Katherine Ruskey:  Yeah.

Kristin W: And then obviously, getting to fly a fighter airplane, is something that not a lot of people get to do.

Katherine Ruskey:  So is being in the air shows, is that part of your job or is that an added bonus that you guys get to do?

Kristin W:  Yeah, it’s kind of like a special duty assignment for me, as well as the maintainers and public affairs individuals on the team. So, in general, we’ll be on the team, you apply, you get selected interviewed, and you’re on the team for two to three years. We pick people straight out of basically the combat squadrons that we have. And then once we’re done with this assignment we go back into you know, just Regular Air Force lives.

Katherine Ruskey:  So what does a resume look like when you’re applying for something like this? You have to have a video of you doing these really cool stunts or somebody fly with you? How does that work?

Kristin W:  Not at all. So there’s not really any special requirements other than you know a couple years experience in that airplane for the team you’re applying to, in our case F-35. Our team is based of Hill Air Force Base-so Salt Lake City, Utah. So that’s where you have to be stationed to be able to apply, you know, already live here at that base and then really, you know, this reputation, good records, you know, training records, all that kind of stuff, then interviews with the leadership on down to be selected. So you obviously have to have a personality that enjoys your traveling, but also talk to people while being on the road because honestly, our main goal isn’t just to you know, show off the airplane at air shows, it’s actually to recruit for the Air Force as well.

Katherine Ruskey: Right. So other than these really cool air shows that you get to do,  how else are these planes used?

Kristin W:  Yeah. Honestly these are you know, combat ready airplanes. You could put bombs and missiles on them tomorrow instead of going to Ocean City, and they could go to war. So it’s a stealth airplane, which means it can, you know, get in close to either bad guy radars either, air ground or air, radars, drop the bombs, shoot missiles. Before anybody sees us, or target us and then turn around and protect, you know, the bigger things behind us that can go in later. So, that’s kind of the combat mission of this airplane and we try to show off a little bit of that in the air show around that we, you know, a little bit what we can without actually talking bombs and shooting missiles.

Katherine Ruskey: Right. Really cool. So I want to know about being a woman and a male dominated kind of job. Like I feel like we don’t see very many women being pilots now but I’m sure it’s on the rise. Can you tell us about that?

 

Kristin W: Yeah, we hope so. You know, obviously there’s not a lot of females either in the civilian or the military realm of aviation, something we’re trying to change. But because, you know, people still to this day don’t even know that you know, females can be pilots much less even fighter pilots even…

Katherine Ruskey:  Right.

Kristin W: Though the Air Force we’ve had female fighter pilots for 30 years now. So it’s kind of crazy to think about…

Katherine Ruskey:  Wow.

Kristin W: But in the fight, about three to four percent of pilots are female, that’s a little bit higher in the general aviation world. But honestly in the military we do a very good job of being a skill-based or merit-based community. So both the airplane doesn’t know the difference of who’s flying it, as well as the squadron, don’t really care because at the end of the day, if you’re going to war to some next to somebody, as long as they can do their job and keep you safe, then that’s all people really care about.

Katherine Ruskey: True. I know you guys are prepping to come to Ocean City. So where you guys coming from, and when you guys land in Ocean City, to go to the air show, where are you coming out of?, Where are you guys launching the planes from?

Kristin W: Yeah, so the maintenance team and the 14th flight  have eight people. They  left  Salt Lake today on a commercial airplane. So they fly into, I can’t remember where they’re at, out there close to Ocean City and then myself and my other  pilot will fly two airplanes out tomorrow morning. And so we’ll rejoin with the tanker. We’ll  refuel airborne to get all the way down to the East Coast. And then we’re landing at Wallops Airfield, which is a little bit of a drive, but we have to have a 8,000 foot runway in general to land at. So, Ocean City in Salisbury a little bit, smaller and don’t meet the  requirements sometimes. So that’s where we’re putting the jets for that weekend and then we’ll be launching out of there every day to fly down to the beach and back.

Katherine Ruskey: Everybody is so excited to see you guys this weekend. One more question. So if you’ve been to Ocean City before the Route 50 Bridge, there’s a  very big sign that says  3,100 some miles from Ocean City to California from the East Coast to the West Coast. How fast can you get from East Coast to West Coast in your planes?

Kristin W: Oh, I’d say if we were going from coast to coast, it would probably take us four hours and 15 minutes maybe.

Katherine Ruskey:  Wow.

Kristin W: We have to slow down a little bit to refuel the tanker and then speed it up again. But in general, we go about commercial airliner speeds a little bit faster, but we can just go direct and we go about the same altitudes as well. So I think tomorrow’s flight will probably be about three and a half hours from Salt Lake to Ocean City.

Katherine Ruskey: Wow. A lot of people drive from Baltimore to Ocean City and it takes a three hour drive, just not in an airplane. So,…

Kristin W: Yeah.

Katherine Ruskey: I think that’s all for us today, Kristin. Thank you very much for joining us.

Kristin W:  Of course, I hope you guys get out in the enjoy the beach and the show this weekend.

Katherine Ruskey:  We will make sure to wave to you.  I doubt that you’ll be able to see us because you’ll be zooming right past us. I’m Katie with Ocean City.com. Make sure you check out the air show, June 10th and 11th this weekend on Ocean City’s  beaches and boardwalk. I will see you at the beach.

Kristin W:  Absolutely.

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