Routine Check Ride Becomes Historic Event

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Ken Johnson
  • 117th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

As an Air National Guard pilot completes undergraduate pilot training and returns back to their base, one of the first things they try to do is get their beans done. That’s pilot talk for currency training which includes a takeoff, an instrument approach and a landing. For 2nd Lt. Kyle Ledbetter, a young pilot just returning from pilot training school and less than 30 hours of flying the KC-135R aircraft, his currency flight became a little more interesting than he expected. When he was given his flight information he quickly learned that one of his instructor pilots was none other than Col. Scott Grant, the Commander of the 117th Air Refueling Wing. Grant is a seasoned pilot with more than 6,700 hours of flying time. His first thought was to be nervous and then he sighed and said, “Aw gosh, this is gonna be awesome.”

As Ledbetter stepped into the right seat next to Grant he remembered thinking “don’t mess it up, don’t mess it up,” but his training kicked in and his check ride went off without any issues.

Ledbetter, a former KC-135R Crew Chief at the 117th, worked hard to become a pilot in the Alabama Air National Guard. He credits his co-workers for all of the support he received while preparing for pilot training. He said this lifelong dream came true for him.

The following day Grant learned that his check ride with Ledbetter was possibly a historic event. The oldest pilot on base with more than 6,700 flight hours, flew next to the youngest pilot on base with fewer than 30 flight hours in the KC-135R.

When asked what his thoughts were on flying with such a young pilot, Grant said, “It was way cool. In my job it is one of the most rewarding, refreshing and invigorating things to be able to get out and fly this airplane with some of our youngest aviators when they come back.”