A Flight on the Vans RV-6A
PROVO, Utah – Sep 12, 2022 – Dallas Meldrum remembers his first time flying as a young boy. He hopped in his grandpa’s Vans RV-6A airplane and sat on a stack of yellow-page phone books to see through the window. He even took hold of the stick and flew. To this day, he remembers how incredible it felt flying through the air. Those moments in Meldrum’s young life sparked a passion for aviation that came with him to BYU as he joined the Air Force ROTC (AFROTC), hosted by the Department of Aerospace Studies at the BYU Marriott School of Business.
“The feeling as I am lifted off the ground and completely free is my favorite thing about flying,” says Meldrum. “The entire world and all your worries remain below you and out of reach—you forget everything and just fly.”
Growing up in Dallas, Meldrum remembers his peers wanting to become doctors, police officers, or firefighters when they grew up. Meldrum, on the other hand, always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and become a fighter pilot. He remembers the stories his parents shared with him about his grandfather’s time flying in the United States Navy. Meldrum’s dream to fly and serve his country have stuck with him ever since.
Now a senior studying mechanical engineering, Meldrum is the newest cadet wing commander in the BYU AFROTC. Throughout his time in the program, he has taken full advantage of the opportunities provided to prepare himself for the next step in his career: undergraduate pilot training (UPT).
After graduating from the AFROTC and commissioning as a second lieutenant, UPT is the next step to become a pilot in the United States Air Force. There, second lieutenants will follow a rigorous training schedule to become some of the top pilots in the world. Upon obtaining their wings, they will also discover the aircraft they will fly during their career. Gaining acceptance into this training is challenging and requires much time, sacrifice, and dedication.
Meldrum has prepared for this step through countless hours inside the classroom and out, dedicating his free time to intense training, preparing for examinations, and obtaining his private pilot’s license. In addition, he has led the honor guard for BYU sporting events, funerals, and other community events. He also conducted the special warfare team, where he focused on training cadets through unconventional methods for future positions within the Air Force Special Warfare.
The simple, repetitive tasks Meldrum has performed as part of the program, such as marching in a straight line and writing countless documents for each event, ended up teaching him the most resilience and discipline. “Above anything I have learned or experienced at BYU, the leadership experiences and small tasks are what built a foundation for my future in aviation,” he says.
Meldrum credits his recent acceptance into undergraduate pilot training to those simple lessons he’s learned in the AFROTC program. As he approaches his senior year in the program, he is grateful for the leadership opportunities he’s had and continues to have during his senior year.
“I realize how much I have learned and grown as a leader,” he says. “I also realize how much more I need to learn in my days ahead of service.” Meldrum reports to his training base fall 2023.
“Gaining admission into pilot training to become a fighter pilot has been one of my biggest accomplishments so far,” he continues. “I have dreamt about and worked for years to obtain this. Everything I have done in the AFROTC focused toward this goal, and now I have got the chance to make this a career. I hope to make my grandfather proud as I follow in his footsteps to serve my country as a pilot in the United States Air Force.”
Media Contact: Chas Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sophia Shafkalis