Child’s dream turned pilot’s reality

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
First was the silence, then anxiety took hold. There was nothing the 12-year-old boy could do, except hold his father's hand and wait for the ... boom!

The jet flew past and the audience exploded with excitement, screaming for the next performance. However, the child did not move. He only reached out toward the vanishing jet as if he could grasp a faded dream -- and fly.

Now a C-130J Super Hercules pilot for the 37th Airlift Squadron, Capt. Kenneth Jubb relives his childhood fantasy every time he takes to the air.

"I will never forget when that F-16 (Fighting Falcon) flew past me all those years ago," Jubb said. "It was an amazing experience and, while I may not be a fighter pilot, I still have the chance to do what I love."

After serving more than seven years in the Air Force, going on three deployments and countless missions around the world, Jubb has achieved his dream of aviation. However, he says his success wouldn't have been possible if he never joined the military.

"Most of the people I knew while I lived in Atlanta, have served in the military at some point in their lives, even my father," Jubb said. "He was the one who originally introduced me to aviation and sparked my interest."

Stephen Jubb, an Air Force veteran and Kenneth Jubb's father, continued his love for airframes as an air traffic controller where he would share tales of past adventures with his son and guide him toward a common passion.

"There were always stories and advice to hear, and I was always around planes," the pilot said. "As a child, I would go to the control tower with my father and watch them take off. I loved it."

Though the military was all he knew, it wasn't until Sept. 11, 2001, that Jubb decided it was time to start following in his father's footsteps.

"I wouldn't say I was unsure of what I wanted to do, but watching those towers fall solidified my future," he said. "After high school, I left for Louisiana State University and enrolled in ROTC."

After years of hard work and dedication, Jubb graduated from the university and joined the Air Force ranks in 2007 as a newly commissioned officer.

"His mother and I are so amazed in all he has achieved," said Jubb's father. "We knew he always wanted to be a pilot, and to see him turn those dreams into a reality is tremendous. Words really can't describe how proud we are of him."

Jubb's childhood fantasy was finally becoming a reality. However, when he began to fly, his dreams evolved into something much more.

"When I finished pilot training, I thought it would be great if I could hear my father on the radio as I flew by his tower," Jubb said. "Unfortunately, he had just finished controlling air traffic around the same time I became a pilot, and I didn't think it would be possible anymore. So I let that idea go."

Although he went through life determined to make his wishes come true, Jubb thought this would be one he could never change until he received a call while flying above Southwest Asia.  

"You are cleared to land," Jubb said recalling his father's response.

"It threw me off when I heard his voice in my headset," Jubb continued excitedly. "I used to hear him talk to multiple aircraft when I was a child, but this time he was talking to me. After all these years he was able to land me, a moment we have always wanted, and in the Middle East of all places. It's a moment I will always cherish."

Stephen Jubb traveled to Southwest Asia to teach the locals how to properly control air traffic, which presented his son the opportunity to turn another dream into a reality.

"I was contracted to work at an airport near where my son was, but I was restricted to where I could go," Jubb's father said. "I didn't think I would be able to be with him. In the end we made it happen, and for the first time, I was able to see my son land his C-130."

After years of dreaming, he is no longer standing motionless. The pilot reached out and took hold of his own future, and achieved what he knew he was always meant to do -- and soar.