By Ken Carter
By Ken Carter
The Air Force Academy’s superintendent and his spouse got an even deeper perspective of the USAFA mission last week as they both performed tandem jumps and she added a sailplane ride to the mix.
Lt. Gen. Mike Gould and wife Paula, a retired Air Force colonel and pilot herself, mingled with permanent party staff and cadets alike in getting an up-close and more personal understanding of cadet programs. The tandem jumps were conducted by 98th Flying Training Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Aldru Aaron and Lt. Col. Alexander Cos also representing the 98th FTS.
The objective: For General and Mrs. Gould to be able to offer totally engaged and informed perspectives when they share the Air Force Academy story to our external audience. The couple will use their first-hand experiential knowledge to only further enhance their abilities to tell the Academy story to many whose paths they’ll cross during the 18th superintendent’s tenure.
One key player in acclimating Mrs. Gould to the cadet way of life was a 21-year-old Cadet 2nd Class from Lexington, N.C.
Instructor Pilot C2C Thomas Dowell, one of only nine currently qualified cadets, flew Mrs. Gould in the TG-15A, a cross country sailplane. “Usually, first-class cadets fly with VIP’s, but all on the team are currently TDY, so as a 2-degree it was a real privilege for me to fly with Mrs. Gould,” he said.
During the course of their one-hour flight, Mrs. Gould remarked that it was very peaceful to fly without an engine, and that it was very different than her experience as a pilot, Cadet Dowell said.
With approximately 200 flights to his credit, Cadet Dowell maneuvered the aircraft above the Academy over the prep school, the cadet area, the golf course, and Douglass Valley before heading south. “We then flew over Garden of the Gods before releasing from the tow plane at 12,500 feet, and I demonstrated to Mrs. Gould the maneuvers that we teach our students and instructors-in-training,” he said.
“Mrs. Gould flew for a portion of the flight and performed a couple of maneuvers.”
With a captive audience, Cadet Dowell had opportunity to share lots of information that will benefit Mrs. Gould when she addresses audiences in the future with the added value of offering a first-hand account of the cadet soaring program. “We discussed the soaring program, the advanced programs (aerobatics and cross country), and techniques used for cross country flying in the gliders,” he said. “It was my pleasure and an honor to fly with Mrs. Gould.”