The Joy of Flying
Clifford Russell '85 spent most of last summer behind the controls of an airplane. For 189 hours he practiced spins, approaches, and take-offs to finish a licensing course in two months that usually takes twice that time. Joining AFROTC seemed to be the obvious next step. "I love to fly," he says simply, "They gave me a pilot slot."
Air Force ROTC pilot training program is one of its most popular options. People are so eager to join, says Wallace, that few scholarships are needed as incentives. As the only Harvard freshman to win a pilot scholarship, Russell feels justifiably luckly. As a licensed pilot who subscribes to "Flying" Magazine, keeps a log book of every flight he's ever made and can talk knowledgeably about altimeters and secondary stalls, he also knows he deserved it.
"I guess I've grown up with flying in my family," he says "I've been flying since before I was even born." His mother once worked as a stewardess, and his father flew passenger planes for Delta until he died two years ago. "He was a dirt-poor Tennessee bum," Russell says proudly, "He taught me a lot more than just flying."
One thing Russell seems to have learned from his father is patriotism. "I do believe in the United States," he says," I would definitely fight for our way of life." A call comes from a neighbor in his Holworthy entryway: "How many Vietnames babies did you kill today, Cliff?" He shrugs and laughs. "They like to give me shit sometimes, but on the whole people have been pretty good about it." After a moment he adds, "Everyone around here is really good at making statements--I don't know enough about what happened in Vietnam to make a statement, but I do think its time to put some faith in our leaders."