Family Unity Cultivates Quality Pilots


Written by Senior Airman Andrew R. Howells

Published May 7, 2007


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Lt. Shawn Barrett and his wife April in front of a KC-135R.

Photo by Senior Airman Andrew R. Howells

Lt. Shawn Barrett and his wife April in front of a KC-135R.

SALT LAKE CITY – Flying high above Utah’s West Desert, spouses of the Utah Air National Guard witnessed the refueling of an F-16 fighter jet from the pod of a KC-135R aircraft on a spouse orientation flight, which departed from the base in the early morning of Mar. 15.


This flight was the first for spouses since the 151st Air Refueling Wing converted to the KC-135R model aircraft last spring. It was also a first for many of the passengers as the aircraft graced the early spring skies of the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR).


April Barrett, wife of 2nd Lt. Shawn Barrett, was one of the spouses who witnessed for the first time, what exactly it is that her husband experiences every time he embarks on a flight.


“I like seeing what my husband does when he goes up each time, and it really makes me proud to see how skilled they all are,” said April.


Lt. Shawn Barrett is a brand-new pilot who in December returned from 20 consecutive months of pilot training. As a new pilot, Shawn was excited to show his wife what all his training has prepared him to do, he said.


“It really was humbling to show my wife what all the studying we did together over the last year and a half was for,” Shawn said.


“I liked helping him study, and to be able to now see it all in action, made it worth it,” agreed April.


Shawn attributes his success as a pilot to the support he received from his wife through his pilot training.


“April’s support and encouragement made it possible,” Shawn said.


Shawn has spent so much of the last two years preparing to become a pilot; it has become part of his daily family life. Shawn and April’s daughter Karah even says “Daddy goes vroom vroom in the sky” every time he gets in his flight suit to go to work.


“I am so happy he is able to do what he loves,” April said.


Shawn is only one part of a team of exceptionally skilled pilots that journey through the skies of the world as they complete the mission of the Utah Air National Guard.


“Our pilots are the best at what they do, because they are committed to their training and understanding of the aircraft,” said Lt. Col. Neal C. Wayment, a KC-135 pilot and chief of safety for the 151st Air Refueling Wing.


“Each training mission is treated as “real-world,” and just like the core values of the Air Force: every member of the crew knows that excellence is required in all things,” Wayment added.