Bronco Spotlight: Amy Padesky
KC-135 Pilot at the Michigan Air National Guard (USAF)
I fly the KC-135 for the Michigan Air National Guard with the 171st Air Refueling Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. The KC-135 is essentially a variant of the Boeing 707 that has the ability to refuel other aircraft while airborne. This mission allows us to extend the range and endurance of other military aircraft, including fighters and bombers. In addition to flying, I hold an administrative position within the squadron when I am not in the air.
What is the most rewarding and the most challenging part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job has been the ability to serve my nation for the past ten years; I enlisted at age 18 while going to Western, and have continued on to become an officer, finish one of the most rigorous pilot trainings in the world, and become an Air Force pilot. I feel honored to be able to do something that I love and give back to my country at the same time. This job has afforded me to visit countries and locations all over the world that I probably would not have been otherwise: Turkey, Japan, Guam, England, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Qatar, Liberia, Cape Verde, and all over the United States, just to name a few. I am very fortunate to serve alongside a great unit of hardworking folks. The most challenging part of my job can be deployments and the stress and time away from family that inherently comes with them.
If you had a campus job or internship, how did they impact your career development?
My time as a dispatcher at the WMU College of Aviation in Battle Creek helped me to learn an attention to detail (that is a necessary part of my career today) by being an integral part of the flight operations. The basic skillsets that I utilized there have carried through into my everyday life. Dispatching gave me a firsthand look at the inner workings of well-oiled aviation management. It taught me how to work well with others (flight instructors, students, and faculty) and how to be a team player, as well as how important the interactions between each facet of a business can be. This has carried over into my military aviation career, as I work on a daily basis with personnel all over the base, such as scheduling, plans, intelligence, maintenance, operations, training, and public affairs. Working at WMU led me to achieve a Master of Business Administration by showing me the importance of career development both inside and outside of the aircraft.
What advice do you have for students looking for their career after college?
Don't pass up smaller opportunities; smaller opportunities can lead to larger ones within the same organization! Work your way up and don't think that the smaller jobs are beneath you. Earn it!