B-Course series: Capt. Alexander Frank's journey to the Eagle
By Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson, 173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 29, 2016
KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- Capt. Alexander Frank, of class 16-ABK, finds his way to Kingsley Field in a much more indirect route than most. Like a river which flows through the lowest points in the terrain, Frank says he traveled the course of least resistance through school which found him with a mediocre grade-point-average going into his junior year of high school. He believed he didn't want to pursue higher education and he was smart enough to score well on tests without doing any homework, a combination that placed him in the C-average category.
"Then I visited the University of Colorado, Boulder and realized that I actually did want to go to college," Frank said.
He decided it wasn't just any college, but a service academy--one of the big three as he calls them: West Point, the Naval Academy, or the Air Force Academy. He knew he needed a strong finish to be competitive for a service academy, and Frank began applying himself in his studies--taking all advanced placement courses, acing them, and choosing to do homework. It culminated in a graduating GPA of 3.4. Even with that, the big three said no thank you to his application.
Instead, Frank went to the Merchant Marine Academy. He continued to push hard toward an engineering degree, and a year later finally gained admission to the Air Force Academy. Another four years saw him earning a double major in mechanical engineering and engineering mechanics, as well as a lock on an undergraduate pilot program slot.
"At that time in my career all I wanted to do was go fly, and I was really excited to be headed for what I thought was just that," said Frank.
That was up until two days before graduation when he learned he was medically disqualified from the flying program.
He ended up far removed from the flying end of the Air Force in civil engineering and spent a deployment in Afghanistan designing building plans.
Several years passed by when Frank's father, an Air Force master sergeant, related a random conversation where he had learned that it was an administrative error citing childhood asthma that dropped Frank from UPT, and therefore could be appealed. Frank applied to both the Board of Corrections of Military Records and to the normal officer transfer board for reinstatement to the flying program.
The corrections board found that his removal from UPT was, in fact, an error.
He made his way back to flying, albeit in the unmanned aerial vehicle program, where he was learning to pilot an aircraft from a cubicle at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. He spent just over a year in the program and had just spent his first couple hours of actual unmanned flight when he got a phone call from Air Force Personnel Command.
"I was literally walking out of the gym and I got a phone call and a gentleman says, 'congratulations on your acceptance to UPT, how fast can you get to Laughlin?' and I said, 'I'll be there tomorrow.'"
That was nearly two years ago, and after his reinstatement he tracked to the F-15 Eagle, his first choice for an airframe.
"I would say the quality that brings me here is persistence, persistence, and...luck," says Frank with a smile.