He Absolutely Loved Serving in the Air Force
One Man’s Story of Being Driven by Love
Growing up in a small town; Mike Mower quickly realized that he, perhaps more than most of his peers, had a deep love for his Country. As a young teenager, Mike knew he was going to dedicate himself to serving in the Military. Ultimately, Mike Mower joined the United States Air Force. He left home and was shipped off to Lackland Air Force Base for basic training. There, Mike quickly learned the Air Force Core Values: Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do. These weren’t just statements Mike needed to memorize as a new recruit. These core values would become a moral footprint that would carry him throughout his life. Mike knew, before he ever signed up for active duty, that he loved his Country. It wouldn’t take him long to realize that he absolutely loved serving in the Air Force.
Mike’s serving in the Air Force took him from his primary career field in Cryogenics to the prestigious United States Air Force Honor Guard. Mike was a Flight Sergeant in the Honor Guard responsible for the training of all subordinate Airmen under him. He himself was trained to the highest standards by the men and women who came before him at the Arlington Cemetery. You see, Mike not only loved his Country and serving in the Air Force, Mike had a brotherly love for all those he served with. To him, the Honor Guard was perhaps the most important mission he ever accepted. For someone motivated in life by love, honoring his fallen brothers and sisters was something Mike would not take lightly. This passion was not merely something he felt inside; it resonated outwardly in his performance. Mike was quickly recognized as the United States Air Force Airman of The Year. This tremendous accomplishment earned him a flight in an F-16 Fighter Jet. Although it would take nearly a decade to fully manifest itself; another love was silently and subtly engrained in his heart that day…a love for flying.
Mike’s Love for Country, Is Not the Only Love of His Life.
Shortly after finishing his initial training Mike found another love entering into his life; that of his future wife. Julie was from the same town and Mike was actually friends with her brother. Being friends with Julie’s brother, Mike and Julie would frequently cross paths. It wasn’t long before they both saw something very special in one another. Mike and Julie were married soon after and have two children together. Anyone who has met Mike and Julie can quickly see that as a couple, there is something that radiates from them. They are not only Husband and Wife; they are best friends, loving parents and true partners in everything that they do. As Mike drew a close to his Air Force career in 2002; he didn’t start his next chapter alone, Julie was right there by his side.
Together, Mike and Julie ran their own Research and Development Company for nearly 8 years. They found great success as entrepreneurs and even hold a few patents. The R&D Industry; like many other industries, saw a decline during the recession our Country is still facing to this day. It was at this moment, that the love Mike felt in an F-16 Fighting Falcon began to take flight. Mike made the decision to become a Helicopter Pilot and has not looked back since. Together, Mike and Julie have endured military deployments, the Terrible-2’s of two children, the stresses of running your own business and the pressures of pursuing a helicopter flight career. Love has been the key motivating factor which drove them down the roads they’ve traveled and love is their guiding sail leading them into tomorrow.
Mike Mower Today, After Serving in the Air Force
Today, Mike is the Chief Helicopter Flight Instructor for Upper Limit Aviation in Cedar City, Utah. Julie is still his best friend and partner. In fact, Julie also plays an integral role in the day to day operations of Upper Limit Aviation as their Human Resource Manager. By summer of 2014, Mike will be responsible for over 200 flight students, over 30 Flight Instructors and roughly 10 office personnel. Early in life, Mike learned key core values from serving in the Air Force. As a small business owner, he learned quickly to empower people to do their jobs. Being a Chief Instructor Pilot has reinforced what he considers “non-negotiable” when it comes to core values. These core values stand out quickly when asking Mike what makes a good pilot:
“Safety 1st, Quality and Attitude. It takes someone who understands that learning never stops. Just as important; you have to Love what you’re doing. Loving what you do and doing what you love is paramount. This profession is way too fast paced and task driven. If you don’t absolutely love flying, the stress and operational tempo of the job will get away from you.
A good pilot also needs to learn from their mistakes. This is a tuff environment and corrective action needs to be quick and decisive; people’s lives are at stake. However, we all make mistakes. You need to learn from them; correct the behavior or the action, pick your head up and drive on. Do not mope on past failures, learn from them. This is a huge pet peeve of mine.
At the end of the day it has to do with attitude, attitude and attitude. If I have a student or even an Instructor struggling academically or when it comes to flight proficiency; I can easily fix those issues if they have a positive attitude. I cannot however, fix a poor attitude. In my experience, this is often times what separates people. If you’re a good pilot with a positive attitude, I can develop you into a great pilot.”
“Loving What You Do and Doing What You Love is Paramount”
This statement echoes a deeper level of profound truth than one may realize. Mike states that “Relationships are the #1 measure of success”. In any environment, not just an environment as complex as flying a helicopter, one should love what they do. Many people work jobs they do not enjoy so that they can provide for their family. This makes what Mike said so very important; attitude, attitude, attitude! If you are motivated by the love of your family; how can you not love providing for them? It may not be the intricate aspects of your job that you love; it is your family that you love. Working a hard job to provide for them is not burdensome, it is a joy. This is what Mike was trying to convey regarding the importance of having the right attitude and this is what Mike is looking for when he hires his instructors.
“When looking to hire a new Flight Instructor, I look a little deeper into their attitude. I want to see their effort. Will this person take a personal interest in their students and will they want to see their students succeed? Those are two questions I am trying to get the answer to. They must take personal pride and ownership in order to be one of my instructors.
A really neat thing about my job as a Chief Instructor is the fact that most of my Instructors today were once my students. I take great pride in seeing my students progress from never having flown to teaching new students how to fly. I know that great instructors will put the effort in and take ownership of their work…and their work is their students.”