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A new breed of pilot

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  • By Senior Airman Skyler Combs

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. – The excitement in the air was palpable as 2nd Lt. Alisson Moraes, 14th Student Squadron Undergraduate Pilot Training graduate, sat behind the controls of the KC-46A Pegasus during a tour of the aircraft Sept. 25, 2020. 

As the first active duty UPT student to have the KC-46 drop as their future aircraft assignment, Moraes was getting a first-hand look into his future as part of a new breed of air refueling pilot. 

“I fell in love last year when I was able to tour the KC-46 for the first time,” said Moraes. “I knew it was going to be my number one choice. It’s a phenomenal aircraft.”

Members of McConnell AFB, Kansas’ 344th Air Refueling Squadron flew out to Columbus to congratulate Moraes. Lt. Col Theodore Fisher, 344th ARS operations officer, and his crew also opened up the aircraft, allowing other UPT students the opportunity to tour the KC-46. 

“Moraes, and other UPT graduates like him, will be the future of this aircraft,” said Fisher. “This is very exciting for both him and his Raven [344th ARS] family.”

Moraes was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and moved to Newark, New Jersey as a teenager. He then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force at the age of 18, becoming a C-130J Super Hercules crew chief at Dyess AFB, Texas. He would go on to attend Officer Training School after 6 years of enlisted service. 

“My ultimate dream was to become a pilot,” said Moraes. “I didn’t have enough money to get my degree, so I knew I had to enlist and work to achieve that dream.”

Moraes will continue on to Altus AFB, Oklahoma, where he and other UPT graduates will undergo various training and qualification exercises. As the first students to enter this course, they will learn to be KC-46 pilots and provide data to the Air Force on how to improve the syllabus for future classes.

“We are very confident that Moraes will excel in his training and will return to the Ravens as a fully qualified pilot in the spring,” said Fisher. “There aren’t any challenges he can’t overcome.”

According to Fisher, while joining the 344th ARS as the youngest pilot in the squadron, Moraes will have access to the knowledge and experience of some of the most experienced pilots in Air Mobility Command. 

“Being one of the first to help out and get the aircraft ready to deploy is going to be awesome,” said Moraes. “Getting that career and life experience is invaluable.”