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Arrowmen in the Air

  Eli Levsky             OA Today

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Arrowmen in the Air

More than 50 years after Neil Armstrong—a member of the former Ketchikeniqua Lodge in Ohio—landed on the moon, Arrowmen have continued to take flight among the eagles. Scouting has influenced and prepared countless youths to enter the aviation industry. The Aviation Merit Badge increased Willis Morales of Nentico Lodge 12 excitement to become a pilot. In the case of former Section Chief Bevan Watson, it was a Scout trip to the airport. For 2021 National Vice Chief Greg Brown, it was all his travels while serving the organization.

“My first experience with an airport and planes was during my first year in the troop when we visited the local airport,” reflected Watson. “Scouting was my first real exposure to aviation.”

While this was not the defining moment Watson decided to enter aviation, it still influenced his future path. He currently attends the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado, following in the footsteps of one of his Scouting mentors. At the Academy, he has met many other Arrowmen. Scouting didn’t only provide “connections and shared experiences” with them, but they could all agree that, similar to their Scouting involvement, they still feel a part of something greater than themselves in the Air Force. Scouting did not only teach Watson how to serve others but also the necessary skills to succeed in the AirForce and while flying. All three pilots agreed with this sentiment: their Scouting involvement prepared them to fly.

Watson parachutes at the USAFA
One of Watson's favorite aviation experiences is jumping out of a plane and being alone in the sky: a thrilling experience he described as "unreal."

“Scouting puts the burden on you as a leader to take responsibility for your followers’ success, which I think is important,” commented Morales. “Especially when you’re a teacher, you have to take responsibility for the success of your students and what you are doing because, at the end of the day, you don’t want them to fail.”    

Morales, whose entire wardrobe is either Scouting or aviation t-shirts, aspires to be an airline pilot. Currently, he works as a certified flight instructor while studying to obtain his mechanic certificate. One of his favorite Scouting memories is completing the Aviation Merit Badge at summer camp and seeing his troop mates’ excitement for something he could talk about for hours. He has been flying since he was 15 and believes that Scouting gave him the preparation to do so. In addition to preparing him to train newer pilots and take responsibility, Scouting also taught him how to think under pressure and have confidence in his life-and-death decisions.

Willis Morales pilots his aircraft alongside his father, Joe
Willis Morales (right) and his father, Joe (left)—who inspired him to pursue aviation—in the cockpit flying high above Virginia. Joe is also an Arrowman.

Scouting has not only provided life lessons used in pilotry but has also influenced these Arrowmen's interest in aviation. For some, it was an airport visit, the Aviation Merit Badge, or a Scouting mentor who influenced them down that path. Then, others, including Brown, take a plane trip to a Scouting event, like a high adventure trek or, in his role as national vice chief, fellowships and conclaves around the country.

“I’m someone that loves traveling and going to new places, and flying commercially is a great way to do that,” commented Brown. “I’d say my favorite part, though, about aviation is being able to utilize my experience and knowledge as an engineer and combine that with all of the complex concepts that come along with flying.”

While Brown, who is currently learning to fly, has traveled a lot commercially, he prefers being at the controls and flying by himself. Being able to fly a Cessna for lessons provides him an opportunity to see one of his favorite views ever: the sunset reflecting off Mission Bay in San Diego.

Greg Brown's cockpit
Greg Brown's cockpit as he prepares to take flight.

For these three Arrowmen, Scouting provided an opportunity to them to become prepared for the challenges that aviation presents by giving them the lessons of servant leadership, patience, time management, and planning. Arrowmen have continued to find their love in the sky and enjoy every minute they get to fly, and the Scouting experience has prepared them to do so.