By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson, 173rd Fighter Wing
KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. —
Instructor pilots at the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Oregon, meet any number of students who have interesting stories of how they found their way to F-15C training at the sole schoolhouse for the aircraft in the U.S. Air Force. For the first time in any of their memories, stretching back more than 15 years, there is a new “first”.
Two brothers arrived to learn how to fly the F-15C at the same time, and in the same class.
For Capt. Jasper and 1st Lt. David Arneberg it’s something they didn’t see coming either. Jasper is 26, and although he went to the U.S. Air Force Academy he wasn’t intent on becoming a pilot, thinking instead he would pursue electrical engineering as a cadet and use that skill to the benefit of the force as a commissioned officer.
His younger brother David, who is 24 years-old, felt that flying was more of a 50-50 proposition as he entered the Academy in 2014. While at the Academy they both joined the Air Force Parachute Team, Wings of Blue—learning to freefall in formation and land under a parachute.
“That really is what sparked my interest in aviation,” Jasper said. “The atmosphere of always being in airplanes—taking off in them but not landing (smiling)—that sparked my interest in pursuing aviation as a career.”
David echoes much of that saying that interacting with pilots during jumps helped him realize the rewards of aviation as a career and in particular that it suited his preference for a “hands-on” career, one that didn’t require long hours at a desk.
Jasper pursued graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for two years before heading to undergraduate pilot training at Sheppard AFB, Texas. Meanwhile, David arrived at Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin AFB, Texas. There, they individually received the news that would see their paths converge at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore.
“We were at different bases,” said David. “When the time came to drop, find out what plane we’d get—I dropped first and got F-15Cs, which I was super happy about—Jasper dropped about a month after that.”
In the current environment very few pilots track to F-15Cs.
“It’s rare to have an F-15C drop in a pilot class at all, so the fact that we both had one drop in our classes and both got it is surprising,” said Jasper.
They say it’s helpful having their brother at their side during training
“Since we know each other well, we can help each other very effectively,” said David.
Both David and Jasper are very relaxed talking about their relationship, but when the subject of competitiveness comes up they became more animated—wearing wide smiles they immediately mention that they really want to fly a BFM (Basic Fighter Maneuvers) against each other.
That competitiveness goes all the way back to backyard football games in grade school.
“Brutally competitive,” said Jasper. “We have a strong competitive streak going all the way back to childhood where we’d have football games and we’d always be on opposite teams, playing quarterback.”
He adds that some of that has tempered over time but David mentions a time when as a sophomore, he challenged Jasper as a senior for the top spot on the boy’s tennis team in high school.
“I barely lost….” he said wearing a rueful expression.
It remains to be seen if they will have the opportunity to vie for supremacy in a one-on-one dogfight in the F-15, but it stands to reason that will not end what is a life-long competition. Despite the competitiveness neither one says they could imagine a better wingman.