Maggie Gochenour, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Air Force ROTC student, traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas, in early August for a unique, internship-like experience through an Air Force ROTC summer program that introduces students to various Air Force careers across the country.
Known as Operations Air Force, the program provides interested students hands-on experiences and insight to the opportunities available in the Air Force by incorporating them into the daily operations and activities of specific units.
During her time in Little Rock, Gochenour joined other competitively selected students from around the country, immediately taking part in leadership lessons presented by the 19th Airlift Wing Commander, Colonel Angela Ochoa and her Chief Master Sergeant. As the installation commander, Colonel Ochoa facilitated a discussion on the leadership requirements of organizing, training, and equipping personnel who operate, maintain and sustain more than 62 C-130 aircraft that provide combat-ready forces to meet requirements globally, while providing for the health and welfare of more than 10,000 personnel and families associated with the local Air Force Base.
According to Gochenour, though, the highlight of the visit was a flight on a C-130, where she was able to sit in the cockpit, work with the Loadmaster who manages aircraft weight and balance, and see the world from a birds-eye view. While in flight, she was allowed to peer over the opened aft door, getting the parachuter’s perspective right before a jump.
“This was an amazing experience that I think should be longer and open to more Air Force ROTC students so that they can also have the chance to see behind the scenes that not everyone else sees,” Gochenour said. “Also, getting to meet other students who share my dreams was really neat and now I have an even larger support group as I go through ROTC and even beyond into my career.”
In addition to participating in a C-130 flight and a flight simulator, she was exposed to many support roles and career fields outside of the flying world that power the Air Force mission such as a Public Affairs, Logistics and the various Force Support functions.
Gochenour is a junior at NU and is majoring in criminal justice with four minors. She is competing to become a pilot in the Air Force upon graduating. Gochenour, from Bellevue, Nebraska, and grew up in an Air Force family. Her father served for 31 years and brother is currently serving as an MQ-9 pilot stationed in New Mexico.