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Blake and Dave Grimwood
Blake Grimwood, left, and his father, Maj. Dave Grimwood, an instructor pilot with the 25th Flying Training Squadron at Vance Air Force Base, Okla. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Frank Casciotta)
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Instructor pilot's son spends summer launching jets

Posted 8/14/2013   Updated 8/14/2013 Email story   Print story


by Joe B. Wiles
71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

8/14/2013 - VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Most young folks wouldn't apply for a summer job so they could see their father at work. But Blake Grimwood isn't like most young folks.

Tall, slender and half way through an engineering degree, Blake spent the summer launching T-38 twin-engine trainer aircraft here.

One of those T-38s he launched regularly had his father, Maj. Dave Grimwood, in the back seat.

Major Grimwood is an instructor pilot with the 25th Flying Training Squadron. He has spent the past three years teaching junior Air Force officers and allied students to fly the T-38 in preparation for careers in fighter and bomber aircraft.

Blake applied for the flightline position with Computer Sciences Corporation Applied Technologies, the contractor that handles most of the support and maintenance facilities at Vance AFB.

He went to work May 28. "I specifically asked for the T-38 end of the flightline so I could see my dad at work," said Blake. "There are some really good guys working out there and they taught me pretty quickly how to do the job."

Blake's job was to prepare the aircraft for flight. He assisted the aircrew with the external inspection of the aircraft, got them strapped in, operated the compressor that starts the jet's engines and ensured all the control surfaces were responding. And finally, he gave the go for the aircraft to roll toward the taxiway.

When recovering the aircraft, he guided the aircraft into the chocks, securing the safety pins and helping the aircrew exit the aircraft.

This was the second summer he applied for the flightline job. But last summer, his first offer came from an oil company as a roustabout in the fields near Carlsbad, N.M. It gave him some practical experience that will apply to his engineering degree.

Working with aircraft this summer has rekindled his interest in joining the Air Force. "This experience has got the idea going again," said Blake. He nurtures a dream to fly, whether through the military or commercially. Flying is certainly a family tradition.

In addition to his father, Blake's uncle, Dan Grimwood, was also a career pilot with the Air Force. Both men earned their Air Force wings at Vance AFB. Both soloed under the same instructor pilot, Randy Peterson, in the 1980s.

Dan Grimwood is currently an aircraft simulator instructor at Luke AFB, Ariz.

Born at RAF Woodbridge in the United Kingdom, Blake has lived at military installations in Germany, North Carolina and Nevada.

He spent his senior year attending Enid High School, so the jets at Vance were familiar sights. Then it was off to Southern Methodist University in Dallas for his first two years working on an engineering degree.

This fall, he will attend the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., switching from mechanical to industrial engineering.

Blake turned in his computer access card Aug. 13, signaling the end of his summer experience at Vance AFB. His father will turn in his card next week when he retires for the second time from the Air Force.

Major Grimwood initially retired from active duty at Nellis AFB, Nev. After a few years flying a corporate aircraft, he was recalled to active duty for a three-year tour as an instructor pilot with the 25th FTS here.

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