Sep. 15—VALDOSTA — Julan Leinbaugh always knew she would serve in the U.S. Air Force from an early age.
She has three older brothers and a sister-in-law who are active or retired military.
Leinbaugh is a sophomore at Valdosta State University with a major in business management. She is a Cadet Third Class at VSU Detachment 172 Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps.
Last summer, she graduated from the Indiana Wesleyan University flight academy in Marion, Indiana, and received her private pilot license. She was one of 200 JROTC cadets selected out of 2,575 applicants.
Leinbaugh received a $22,500 scholarship which covered transportation, room and board, academic and flight materials, and max use of 45 flight hours.
This past summer, Leinbaugh was handpicked to return to the flight academy as the lead student life advisor for a total of 18 cadets.
"The flight academy better prepared me for any future career I may have in aviation," Leinbaugh said. "I also learned how to better help others in the air grounds program here at Detachment 172."
Since graduating from the flight academy Leinbaugh has been integral in aiding fellow cadets in training. Earlier this year, VSU AFROTC unveiled the new flight simulator room, where Leinbaugh led the flight simulation and demonstration.
Leinbaugh said her love for aviation stemmed from flying the Cessna 172 in the flight academy. But the highlight of aviation is developing relationships through teaching fellow collegiate cadets and JROTC cadets.
"Everyone has a unique and personal story about why they want to go into aviation and it is such a rewarding job to bring their goals to life," Leinbaugh said.
Leinbaugh plans to be commissioned into the U.S. Air Force upon graduation, with hopes to one day serve as a rescue helicopter pilot.