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Face of Defense: New Pilot Takes First Flight in Home Unit

By Air Force Capt. Matt Murphy, 156th Airlift Wing

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MUNIZ AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Puerto Rico, Dec. 5, 2017 — Air Force 2nd Lt. Isaias Rivera may be the newest pilot in the 156th Airlift Wing, but he isn’t new to the unit, or to the WC-130H Hercules weather reconnaissance aircraft stationed here.

Air Force 2nd Lt. Isaias Rivera and Air Force Lt. Col. Evaristo Orengo, the 198th Airlift Squadron commander, conduct a pre-flight inspection before Rivera's first home base flight at Muniz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico, Nov. 22, 2017. Puerto Rico Air National Guard photo by Air Force Capt. Matt Murphy
Air Force 2nd Lt. Isaias Rivera and Air Force Lt. Col. Evaristo Orengo, the 198th Airlift Squadron commander, conduct a preflight inspection before Rivera's first home base flight at Muniz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico, Nov. 22, 2017. Puerto Rico Air National Guard photo by Air Force Capt. Matt Murphy
Air Force 2nd Lt. Isaias Rivera and Air Force Lt. Col. Evaristo Orengo, the 198th Airlift Squadron commander, conduct a pre-flight inspection before Rivera's first home base flight at Muniz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico, Nov. 22, 2017. Puerto Rico Air National Guard photo by Air Force Capt. Matt Murphy Raising up one of your own – New pilot takes first flight at home unit
Air Force 2nd Lt. Isaias Rivera and Air Force Lt. Col. Evaristo Orengo, the 198th Airlift Squadron commander, conduct a preflight inspection before Rivera's first home base flight at Muniz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico, Nov. 22, 2017. Puerto Rico Air National Guard photo by Air Force Capt. Matt Murphy

Rivera took the right seat recently for his first home base flight after successfully completing the transition from enlisted aircraft maintainer to pilot.

“We’re getting a steady stream of pilots. Our recruiting efforts are paying off,” said Air Force Col. Carlos Borges, operations group commander for the 156th. “Young blood -- it’s the way it should be to keep the unit alive and moving forward.”

Borges said that, as a former enlisted airman, Rivera is a special case. “It shows how important it is to give our own guys a chance. We’re really proud of him. We raised him up,” he said.

‘Living a Dream’

It is no easy task to jump from the enlisted corps to the officer corps. Rivera never had the right opportunity before and when a master sergeant said they needed pilots, he wasn’t going to let this opening pass him by.

“I’m living a dream. My family is military; my dad served, my sister is a captain in the Army. Belonging to the military is in my blood,” Rivera said. “I’m the first in the Air Force and the first to fly.”

Rivera’s first flight training pilot was Air Force Lt. Col. Evaristo Orengo, the 198th Airlift Squadron commander.

“The first flight is very interesting for pilots. They develop that notion of being a flyer with the unit and dealing with the crew; especially a new crew,” Orengo said. “It’s great. We are glad to have him here.

Standing calm and confident, Rivera shows no sign of being nervous about his flight. “It’s my first time flying with people I know. It is a unique experience,” he said. “I’ve been in the unit nine years; now I can make the guys in the back get sick.”

After the crew brief, Rivera took his seat in the cockpit and took off on his first home flight, looking forward to many more.
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