From ALS to OTS: Eielson Airman pushes for the skies Published Aug. 30, 2022 By Airman 1st Class Ricardo Sandoval 354th Fighter Wing EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- For the past three years, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Alexandra Abney has been working with fliers during RED FLAG-Alaska, however soon enough, she just might be one of those pilots flying training simulations in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex. Abney, an Intel Target Analyst, was recently chosen for Officer Training School, a long-awaited accomplishment. “I’ve always been interested in becoming a pilot,” said Abney. “While deployed in 2020, I was encouraged by my team to take the Air Force Officer’s Qualifying Test overseas and begin looking at the OTS Board application process.” Upon returning from deployment, Abney’s leadership informed her of a unique opportunity that could provide guidance in her aspirations of becoming a pilot. “I applied to participate in the Rated Preparatory Program, a month-long online ground school followed by a week of flying with Civil Air Patrol,” said Abney. “It was such an incredible experience and during our week of flying, we learned more about the application process.” Even though the week-long experience ignited her drive, Abney was not always sure she could become a pilot. “I grew up wearing glasses and contacts and thought that disqualified me from flying,” explained Abney. “Until one of my coworkers mentioned he was getting Photo-Retractive Keratectomy and gave me the information I needed to pursue eye surgery.” Abney was able to receive PRK through the Air Force and the rest lay on her shoulders. She took the AFOQT and the Test of Basic Aviation before an interview with the commander, followed by a board meeting. Her team always knew Abney would strive for best and were not surprised she was bestowed such a high recognition. “She pursues her goals with ferocity and uses her time and personal initiative to develop new processes and improvements,” said Master Sgt. Uriah Eichholz, 354th OSS Intel Weapons and Tactics Chief. “She has the fantastic capability to both aggressively defend what she knows to be true while simultaneously being willing to learn and refine her knowledge.” While an Airman with the 354th Operation Support Squadron, Abney was a member of a team who built an entire program of processes and training still used to this day. “Now as an NCO, she is utilizing that knowledge to continue refining that program for the next Airmen,” added Eichholz. “She has always thrown herself into improving her environment and making it better for everyone.” While waiting to hear if she had been accepted to OTS, Abney took her growth-mindset attitude with her to Airman Leadership School this past summer. Coincidentally, she learned about her acceptance into OTS and received the course’s highest award, the John L. Levitow Award, in the same month. To earn the award, the recipient must finish in the top 1% of their class. “My classmates made sure people had what they needed to succeed and I would not have done as well if others hadn’t pushed me during those six weeks,” said Abney. “I was honored to have enough of their regard in order to be awarded.” With this success pushing her forward, Abney awaits the next part of her Air Force career as she is expected to attend OTS in Alabama followed by initial flight training in Colorado. For more information about enlisted to officer opportunities, reach out to your local Base Education Office to find the right path for you.