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Wanting To Fly Since Early Teens
by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Amber Litteral
December 28, 2022

Meet U.S. Air Force Capt. S. “Jimmy” Root, an F-35A Lightning II student pilot training with the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, during exercise Northern Lightning 22 at Volk Field ANGB.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jimmy Root, a student pilot with the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, prepares to fly a U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II from the 58th FS, 33rd FW, Eglin AFB, for a training mission during exercise Northern Lightning at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin on August 18, 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Christian Corley)
U.S. Air Force Capt. Jimmy Root, a student pilot with the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, prepares to fly a U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II from the 58th FS, 33rd FW, Eglin AFB, for a training mission during exercise Northern Lightning at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin on August 18, 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Christian Corley)

Root moved around a lot as a child, but claims the northeast U.S. as home – specifically New York City, New York.

“I joined ROTC in 2017, because I’ve wanted to fly since my early teens, and the Air Force is a fantastic win-win where I get to fly jets and serve my country,” said Root. “The USAF's emphasis on cutting edge technology was also a key selling point for me relative to the other military branches.”

As with any job, there are always challenges and they can differ from person to person.

“Keeping up with all the knowledge, namely aircraft systems, enemy systems, tactics, flight rules and fight rules,” said Root. “Not to mention, those items are prone to change, especially tactics, and that the application of said knowledge has to occur at speeds in excess of 580 mph.”

During exercise Northern Lightning, Root participated in flying training missions that enhanced the Agile Combat Employment concept and helped build combat-credible Airmen.

“My role is to take the work of countless Airmen across the force and hone it into tangible power projection in support of higher leadership objectives,” said Root. “By keeping myself proficient, knowledgeable, and tactically flexible at all times, I am able to perform this duty regardless of location or austerity, thereby ensuring continuity in the Air Force's ability to deliver effects for America even in the face of externally driven contingencies.”

Root integrated with 4th- and 5th-generation assets from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air National Guard during the tactical-level, joint training exercise replicating today’s air battlespace.

“The ability to interact and fly with other platforms and units - in addition to the novelty, these joint exercises are invaluable training for how we would actually fight a war if it came down to it,” said Root. “As an aviator, I feel better prepared to defend America and her interests while leveraging the full capabilities our military has to offer.”

U.S. Air Force Capt. Jimmy Root, a student pilot with the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, prepares to fly a U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II from the 58th FS, 33rd FW, Eglin AFB, for a training mission during exercise Northern Lightning at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin on August 18, 202. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Christian Corley)
U.S. Air Force Capt. Jimmy Root, a student pilot with the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, prepares to fly a U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II from the 58th FS, 33rd FW, Eglin AFB, for a training mission during exercise Northern Lightning at Volk Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin on August 18, 202. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Christian Corley)

After countless hours training and flying, Root understands he couldn’t do what he does in the air without support from the ground.

“Every single one of my fellow service members inspires me to do what I do,” said Root. “Knowing just how much work and time goes into every hour I fly – whether that's by maintenance, aircrew flight equipment, aviation resource management, security forces ... too many duty titles to count, keeps me humble and hungry to do better in order to honor their dedication and sacrifice.”

When Root isn’t flying, he can be found running, swimming, reading, listening to music or playing music.

“I also enjoy flying light aircraft and scooting around on my laptop flight simulator,” said Root. “But those kind of blur the line between work and play.”

When it comes to someone questioning if they should join the U.S. Air Force, Root speaks highly of the opportunities and resources it has to offer.

“The financial benefits, traveling, real-world experience, camaraderie ... the list goes on,” said Root. “I was motivated by the jets we fly, but our capabilities span the entire air domain, and I firmly believe there is a job for everyone in the USAF. Whether that's nursing, tactical control, explosive ordnance disposal, acquisitions – pilots may be the ones you see in the movies, but it takes a lot more than just stick, or yoke, jockeys to get the job done. Do what you love and the rest will follow!”

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