Editor’s note: This article was written with contributions by retired Lt. Col. Curtis Hughes.
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. — When one Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 17-10 graduate pinned on his Air Force wings, June 9, he became the third generation of Air Force fighter pilots in his family.
Second Lt. Curtis Hunter Hughes is following in the footsteps of his father and his grandfather.
Hunter grew up in Denver and graduated from Colorado State University in 2013.
“I grew up in an Air Force environment,” Hunter said. “It was like a big family of friends, many who I still know today. I felt like it was destiny to do the same thing my father and grandfather did.”
From a young age, Hunter was exposed to the Air Force and the fighter community through his father and earned his private pilot’s license when he was 17 years old.
“I didn’t know where I wanted to go, but I knew I wanted to fly fighters,” Hunter said. “I wanted to be a part of the fraternity that is the fighter squadron family.”
After much searching, he finally found a unit to call home. In 2015, Hunter joined the 190th Fighter Squadron of the Idaho Air National Guard in Boise, Idaho. He earned his Air Force commission at Officer Training School in 2016.
“Both of these men are my heroes,” Hunter said. “They truly embody the spirit of the Air Force — integrity, service, and excellence. I’m lucky to have them and without them, I would not be here.”
At graduation, Hunter’s wings were the ones originally earned by his grandfather, given to his father and now passed to him.
Hunter will attend the A-10 RTU with the 47th Fighter Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base this fall before returning to his unit in Boise in 2018.
“People ask, ‘Can anyone be a pilot?’ and the answer is yes,” Hunter said. “It’s not just the smartest people who can become pilots, it’s the people who want to be pilots more than anyone else.”