McConnell Reserve Citizen Airman: Frontiers in Flight

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Preston Webb
  • 931st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
One of Team McConnell’s own Reserve Citizen Airmen, Maj. Brian Correll, 18th Air Refueling Squadron instructor pilot, is slated to perform an aerial acrobatics routine during the 2018 Frontiers in Flight Airshow at McConnell Air Force Base, Kans.

With more than 7,000 flight hours across 100 different airframes ranging from Piper Cubs to the Boeing KC-135, Correll was actually a late-bloomer into the flying world.

“My introduction to aviation was unique. I took a friend up on an opportunity to go skydiving in college,” Correll said. “I had about 60 jumps before I took my first recreational flight and experienced my first landing.”

After flying recreationally and regularly, Correll eventually becoming qualified as an instructor pilot. Correll didn’t know much about the Air Force until a student of his was participating in a training program for the Kansas National Guard, and piqued his interest with the thought of flying something different.

“For me, military flight training was a blast. I learned a lot of new things. During one of my first flights in a [KC-]135 [Stratotanker] at Altus AFB the instructor had to keep reminding me to keep my feet off the rudder pedals,” Correll said. “As a civilian instructor it’s fun to see military pilots and remind them to use those things down by their feet. It’s just two different philosophies to flying.”

People often ask Correll how he can transition between two philosophies of flying so easily. He equates it to switching driving between a large truck and a small car; the same basic principle but with a few fundamental differences.

During his routine, Correll prefers to fly his modified Pitts S2S. Correll has reinforced the wings, doubled the aileron area, increased the horsepower of his engine 25 percent and replaced his propeller with composite, and removed several heavy components for the sake of being able to fly ‘all out’ as he puts it.

“If you flew the aircraft to it’s original limits, it would be fine, but I like going a little beyond that, so I strengthened it up. If it’s not necessary, it’s not in the aircraft.”

Just like his flying, Correll also goes above and beyond in his military career, with six deployments under his belt.

“I enjoy being part of the mission effort while deployed. The 135 is a great platform to see the mission too. One flight might be a Navy F-18, the next flight could be a bomber, you really see what the military is accomplishing,” Correll said. “Really the hardest part about deployments has to be the time away from my family.”

To be able to spend more time at home and still be able to fly as much as he wanted, Correll transitioned to the Air Force Reserve and Team McConnell a few years ago.

“In 2015 I was hired by Textron Aviation and moved to Wichita, so to simplify things for me and my family I transferred to the Reserve with the 931st Air Refueling Wing,” Correll said. “It’s so much easier as a Traditional Reservist to just drive across town than to have to travel halfway across the state.”

To anyone interested in a life of aviation or joining the military Correll shared a few words of wisdom.

“There’s several aspects to aviation, there’s building planes, maintaining planes, flying planes or controlling planes,” Correll said. “You just have to look at yourself and your skill set to see where you would be the happiest.”

For more information about joining the Air Force Reserves, contact Senior Master Sgt. Chris Modlin, 931st Air Refueling Wing recruiter, at