Student pilot reconciles two passports, one career

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jelani Gibson
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
(This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

Thousands of miles away from Texas, across the Atlantic Ocean, jets streaked across the sky over Europe, captivating the imagination of a boy who would grow up to face two lives and one dream.

Second Lt. Abraham Morland, an 80th Flying Training Wing Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training student pilot here, held dual citizenship in both the United States and the United Kingdom. He was born to British parents in Tulsa, Okla., where his father worked as a flight simulator technician.

With aviation seemingly in his blood, Morland said he always had his mind focused on taking to the sky. When it came time to decide how he wanted to pursue his dream of flying, he had to ask himself what flag he wanted to wear on his flight suit -- the Stars and Stripes or the Union Jack.

"All I've really wanted to do was to fly," he said of his decision. "It was a dream and love of mine. I can't see myself serving anywhere else."

Morland said the pull of flying was constantly beckoning him, even at a young age. Returning to his parent's homeland, he first began his journey to the cockpit as an 11-year-old boy with the Air Training Corps, the British equivalent to the Civil Air Patrol. During his freshman year of high school, he went on a two-week field trip to the 100th Air Refueling Wing at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England. There, he shadowed the flight crews, security forces, civil engineers and aircraft maintenance Airmen, experiencing an Air Force life.

It was watching the KC-135 Stratotankers and the C-130 Hercules gliding through the air that stirred a fire in his belly, Morland said. His decision to fly under the Stars and Stripes had gained momentum.

"My real love was America, I wanted to come back home to the states and join the U.S. Air Force," he said.

As a result, his parents moved back to the United Sates so their son could pursue his dream of becoming an American pilot. Morland enlisted in the Air Force as a personnel apprentice and reported to his first duty station at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., where he spent the next three years trying to get into the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"I thought that was the only way I could become an Air Force pilot," he said. "My grades were okay, but I didn't have high enough (aptitude test) scores."

Having a strong Christian faith, Morland said he "gave it all to God" in his pursuit to becoming a pilot in the Air Force. For five years, he tried and failed to get into the Academy. After his final rejection, he took his commander's advice and attended the Air Force ROTC at Angelo State University, Texas.

'"What's the worst that could happen,'" his commander told him.

From the moment he was accepted, Morland wanted to fly a "heavy" aircraft, as memories from his high school experience at RAF Mildenhall rang fresh in his mind. He was accepted to pilot training at Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program in October 2012.

"They told me I had to give up my British citizenship," Morland said. "All of my family lives over in England, so it was hard to say, 'I will denounce the Queen.' (But) it wasn't hard for me to say I will be loyal to America."

In the first phase of flight training, Morland is now learning to fly the T-6 Texan II. Operated by the 80th Flying Training Wing,the joint training program is the world's only multi-nationally manned and managed flying training program chartered to produce combat pilots for NATO. Throughout all of the difficulties in his way to flight school, the lessons of perseverance were not lost on the 24-year-old lieutenant.

"Do not give up," he said. "Days are going to get tough. We all go through challenges. I had good supervisors encouraging me every step of the way."

Having reached the starting point of his dream, Morland said he is enthusiastic and optimistic about the goal that took him so long to achieve.

"It was tough, but encouraging," he said. "This is what I want to do."

As he competes on a global scale against other hand-picked candidates, Morland said he is confident in his ability and looks forward to supporting his fellow wingmen.

"I want to be able to help people go for their dreams," he said. "We're a big team, we need each other."

Now that Morland has begun his career as a pilot, he has entered a place where he can finally fulfill his dream of flying. His original dream of flying the heavies, however, has morphed into wanting to fly fighters. Ultimately, he said, it doesn't matter -- as long as he's flying high.