Flying into the Future

Senior pursues military career

Senior Cooper May said he has been interested in joining the military since his youth because his father was an officer in the Air Force as well. On March 15, he was officially accepted to the Air Force Academy.

“I was always interested in the Air Force from a young age due to my father’s service,” May said.

The Air Force Academy is known for its difficulty and high level of excellence.

“It’s one of the five service academies,” May said. “All of [the schools] are very selective institutions [and] all have a very rigorous nomination process.”

In order to be accepted, May had to complete more than what the average college application requires.

“The competition and application make acceptance quite difficult,” May said. “Class size is around 1,200 [students]. For anybody to get one of those slots, they must have a nomination from either their congressman, senator, vice president or president.”

May said the Air Force Academy offers the same majors and minors as a traditional college but is different because of the primary focus.

“It is a military institution,” May said. “From the moment you arrive, you are preparing to enter the Air Force after you graduate.”

Although a challenge, May said his background in Boy Scouts gave him a leg up when it came to applying and preparing to enter the Air Force Academy.

“Scouts [was] a great way to experience a similar honor code,” May said. “[I also got to] speak with many retired military members about their experience. It offered me great leadership experiences.”

May will begin Basic Cadet Training (BCT) in late June alongside the rest of the class of 2021. BCT is the boot camp program for new members which focuses on the transition from civilian to military life, particularly in regards to the physical and mental demands of being a part of the Air Force.

In order to prepare for BCT, cadets are expected to participate in a pre-boot camp workout program three to five times per week that lasts 14 weeks.

“The workouts include running, stretching, push-ups, sit-ups and weightlifting,” May said. “A lot of the training is done with intervals in order to help build stamina. I work out with a group most of the time because I play sports for the school, and the workouts overlap.”

Cadets wake up around 5 a.m. every day during BCT and must be in bed by 11 p.m. While there, they take part in learning weapon skills, completing teamwork challenges, improving physical condition and promoting character development.

In addition, cadets aren’t allowed to have their phones during BCT or the first three months at the Air Force Academy. Instead, they are only allowed to write letters and have two phone calls per week.

May said he hopes to enter pilot training after graduating from the Academy.

“I’m looking forward to pursuing my goal of becoming an officer in the Air Force,” he said. “[There are] amazing opportunities at the Air Force Academy [including] gliding, jump team and flying. These teams participate in different flying competitions.”

May will officially begin service after graduating from the Air Force Academy.

“Being able to serve my country is what I’m the most excited about overall.”