This year, the Air Force Academy hosted many incredible speakers to participate in its annual National Character and Leadership Symposium (NCLS). One notable speaker is a former-German paratrooper, an avid skydiver, AND the current CEO of Airbus, Dr. Tom Enders. Dr. Enders traveled to the Academy from Germany, and was joined by the chairman of Airbus America, Mr. Allan McArtor (USAFA graduate ’64).
Dr. Enders has led an exciting career, and has gained invaluable leadership experience along the way. He began his time at the Academy by delivering an electrifying speech to hundreds of cadets and NCLS delegates. He focused on leadership, but also covered topics of character and how to develop successful life habits for the future leaders of America. Directly following his speech, Dr. Enders was escorted around the campus, and given a taste of the many programs offered by the Academy. As a skydiver himself, with over one thousand jumps, there was one program he was particularly keen on visiting; The United States Air Force Parachute Team, The Wings of Blue.
The next morning, after touring Falcon Stadium, Dr. Enders and company headed off to the 98th Flying Training Squadron. He was greeted by a team of cadets and squadron staff; all members of the Wings of the Blue. His tour began with a brief overview of the program led by the 98th FTS commander, Lt. Col. Mike Love. After the program overview, the cadets took over and began to showcase their excellent work. From the basic jump course, Airmanship 490, to advanced competition and demonstration jumping capabilities, team members showed Dr. Enders how the team operates as a leadership building opportunity to build up academy cadets to “stand in the door”.
Dr. Enders was thrilled to be surrounded by fellow skydivers, and was very active in asking questions and learning more about the program. He even launched a practice exit out of a mock training door- in his suit!
At the end of the tour, Dr. Enders concluded his visit by taking a group photo with the team, and promising to return later in the year to complete a jump with them. After departing the 98th, for his memory’s sake, he asked his cadet escort to write down for him one particularly important phrase he picked up during the tour- the mission statement of the Wings of Blue:
Developing Airmen Through Flight in its Purest Form… STAND IN THE DOOR!
The 98th FTS looks forward to seeing Dr. Enders and company in the following year!
by Tom Lerum