By Bob Alvis, special to Aerotech News
Media day at this year’s Edwards Hybrid Air Show was itself full of firsts at a military base known for its innovative ways.
With COVID-induced restrictions and changes in protocol, the usual buzz of media activity was trimmed down to just a select few, as seating on the media flight was to be a reflection of all the proper public health practices now employed in society.
At many air shows, media folks get a hop in the cool jet fighter with a team member of one of the Thunderbirds or Blue Angels, but for this event, the amazing Boeing C-17 would host us. Many who would not normally get a chance to fly would end up in the belly of this huge transport aircraft, experiencing firsthand the flyovers of our Southern California communities!
When I was chosen to be one of those few, I got to thinking of how I would write about the experience, how to put a personal spin on it, and touch a few hearts. It didn’t take long to see where my story was going to go when I met the crew of the plane and the loadmaster, who was in charge of everything from the cockpit cabin back, and who gave us our briefing.
Staff Sgt. Kori Myers explained that she took a lot of pride in her plane, that she was in charge, that we were her responsibility, that our safety was her main concern, and also that we were not to disrespect her plane!
The professional loadmaster on any air force transport is just as important as the pilot, for they must oversee the safe handling of all the cargo — human or otherwise — and make sure its weight and placement is evenly distributed to ensure a safe handling aircraft.
After we were briefed and socially distanced around the cargo bay, I watched her perform her duties preparing the aircraft for takeoff. I was totally taken in by her attention to details and the tasks at hand, as she was the eyes for the pilot in the back of the plane. I was thinking of my own experience in the Air Force many years ago and it gave me great pride to think that even today, we have these amazing airmen who perform tasks, who work behind the scenes of our armed forces without publicity and fanfare, and are just hitting it out of the park!
During the flight, I observed Myers going about her duties. I watched in amazement as she walked around the open loading ramp with just a tether strap, making her way back to the edge of the open cargo bay and sitting down and waving to the communities as we flew over them, feet and legs hanging over the edge! What an inspirational person she is and, as I would find out, the story would only get better when I spent some time with her and learned some of her background.
Kori Myers is no stranger to Aerospace Valley, as her parents were both stationed at Edwards Air Force Base over the years and she grew up attending our local schools. A 2014 graduate of Desert High School at Edwards Air Force Base, she wasted no time enlisting in the Air Force and was sent off to chase her dream of doing great things. The Air Force specialty code of Loadmaster comes with a lot of responsibility and puts a heavy demand on one, as education and professionalism are the keys to being a successful loadmaster and gaining the trust of your crew. Everything about the sergeant spoke to her achieving all these qualities. Being the old airman that I am, I can’t express how impressed I am with those who serve in our military today, knowing that Sergeant Myers is just one of the many that brings pride to our country and its people. When it comes to a media flight, we all know deep down inside it’s really an opportunity to showcase not only the military community as a whole, but to also put forth the opportunities that can be had with military service.
One thing I shared with Myers was that back in my days, those long rides in C-141s or C-130s were filled with many hours of boredom. How, I asked, in the modern-day Air Force, did they spend their time between their inflight responsibilities? Well unlike my time, which was filled with hours of endless card games, her answer was, “We have the ability to watch movies and read lots of books.” I was further impressed when she said she used her time in the air to study, as she is working on her degree! Now that’s impressive, to say the least!
So with the ending of the media flight, the television station reporters all went back to edit and prepare their news for broadcast. I left with a more personal story of an airman who did not go off to college to become that pilot. She took the more conventional path that thousands of high school graduates take and found her ticket to traveling the world in million-dollar machinery, all the while earning an education that will not only serve her well into the future, but also the Air Force, where she intends to forge a career. She is also inspiring those who may not have a clear path to a college education, by demonstrating that opportunities to achieve greatness can still be found by coming up through the enlisted ranks of the military. There is worth in the achievements and dedication of those who make up the backbone of the United States Air Force and a place for them to be a part of that team as an Airman or NCO.
Staff Sgt. Kori Myers: C-17 loadmaster, resident of our Aerospace Valley and an inspiration to our youth that all things are possible with dedication and a dream and the very best our nation has to offer.
Thanks to all who made this flight possible. I feel truly blessed — and especially grateful that the “souvenir” air sickness bag remained intact and unused, and that the smell of burnt aviation fuel still smells as good as it ever has!