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Student Spotlight

A Flight Path Less Traveled

Joseph Edmund wants to become a fighter pilot someday, but he knows that is no small task. Now as a current member of the Air Force ROTC (AFROTC) at Brigham Young University, his hard work over the past 10 years is paying off as he steps closer toward making his dreams become a reality.

Photo of Edmund in front of a NATO sign.
Edmund trained at NATO headquarters in Germany.
Photo courtesy of Joseph Edmund.

Edmund spent his childhood in North Carolina, where he discovered his passion for serving in the military. “My great grandfather fought in World War II and both of my grandfathers served in the Vietnam war. From a young age I’ve wanted to join the military and serve my country,” Edmund says.

From the age of 13, Edmund prepared academically and physically to meet the demands of the Air Force so he could become a pilot. “I began making an effort to exercise and get in shape and made the preparations to get where I am at today,” Edmund says.

In high school, Edmund heard great things about BYU’s AFROTC program. “Some of my peers said it was a great program, so I applied for the Air Force ROTC scholarship,” Edmund says. BYU accepted him and he began his AFROTC journey at BYU two weeks after he returned home from his church mission in Australia.

Since beginning at BYU, Edmund has studied electrical engineering and simultaneously enjoyed his time in the AFROTC. “The people are what really make it awesome. I’ve made a lot of great lifelong friends. Coming from North Carolina to BYU, I didn’t really have anybody out here, so I was pretty much on my own,” he says. “It was nice to instantly have a community.”

Eight cadets from across the US participated in Fly NATO.
Edmund was one of eight participants in the Fly NATO program.
Photo courtesy of Joseph Edmund.

This past June, Edmund and seven other cadets from various universities across the US participated in a unique two-week training opportunity called Fly NATO. The professional development program, sponsored by the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO), included training in the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany.

Fly NATO introduces AFROTC cadets to international military operations, which gives them a broader understanding of NATO’s mission, the Air Force’s role in the alliance, and the role of other participating nations. The program began in Texas where Edmund and the other cadets gained a sense of what pilot training is like. “It was just incredible getting up close to that environment and witnessing the professionalism and also the capabilities of the pilots,” he says.

The cadets traveled to Europe next, where they spent most of their two weeks. At the NATO headquarters in Belgium, Edmund received training on the airborne warning and control system (AWACS), a radar system designed to facilitate command and control of the battlespace.

A picture of Joseph Edmund standing in front of a T-38 fighter jet.
Edmund rode with a pilot in a T-38 fighter jet.
Photo courtesy of Joseph Edmund

During one day of the training, Edmund and his peers rode in the back of a T-38 fighter jet. “It’s not a new or fancy jet, but it’s a really cool aircraft that was really fun to ride in,” Edmund says. “That experience in the jet was a culmination of a lot of preparation over a lot of years, and to even get the opportunity to do something like that was just incredible.”

As Edmund finishes his last year at BYU, he’s cognizant of what his future has in store. “I was recently selected for pilot training,” Edmund says. “It has always been a goal of mine to do something that I enjoy. I wanted to do something that was more than just a way for me to make money,” Edmund says. “I’m really proud of my consistent efforts that have helped me get to where I am today, and I hope to keep on that path to reach my goals.”

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Written by Jake Holt

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