Military News

Monday, August 03, 2015

Face of Defense: F-22 Demo Team Airman 'Lives, Loves' Life



By Air Force Senior Airman Kayla Newman
633rd Air Base Wing

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. , Aug. 3, 2015 – Through the crowd of people, the chaos of vendors and food trucks, and the overbearing sound of aircraft zooming through the sky, one U.S. Air Force airman engages with the masses and broadcasts the Air Force story to all who will listen.

Senior Airman Kyara Johnson, 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons loader, enlisted in 2013 and is now a member of the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team -- the first female to earn a spot on the crew. She typically handles the music and video camera during air shows.

“I’ve had people come up to me and tell me they just had to talk to me because they are happy that a female is on the team,” Johnson said.

A Life Far From Ordinary

“She is definitely a breath of fresh air for the team,” said Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Billie, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team maintenance team chief. “Her work ethic is astounding. You never have to ask her to do anything because she is already three steps ahead of you. And she does it with a smile on her face.”

Before Johnson joined the demo team, her days consisted of loading bombs and missiles onto F-22s, the world’s only operational fifth-generation fighter aircraft, as well as ensuring the weapons system remained up-to-date.

On the road however, Johnson’s life is far from ordinary.

“We have early mornings and really long days,” she said. “You think it’s going to be a long day, and it is, but it’s so fun that you really don’t notice it.”

Since the performance aircraft isn’t equipped with weapons, Johnson welcomes the opportunity to branch out of her career field while remaining in the F-22 community. Being a "people person" helps her with her new tasks as well, she said.

During air shows, the demo team has a tent set up to give the local community the opportunity to interact with airmen, as well as learn about the Air Force and the aircraft.

“We get a lot of people who come by asking questions about the [F-22]. How it works and how fast does it go,” Johnson said. “You have to engage in conversation and make sure they are pumped up and ready for the demo.”

'Live, Love, Life'

While Johnson remains modest in how she interacts with the crowds, her team chief said he sees much more than Johnson lets on.

“There isn’t one specific story that I could tell and say ‘Oh wow that was amazing,’ because she does it every day,” Billie said. “When we are out engaging with the public, watching her is awesome. It puts a smile on [everybody's] face, because she is just that good.”

Johnson said bringing smiles isn't difficult for her. By applying her motto, "Live, Love, Life," to her daily routine, she said she can accomplish almost anything.

“You can’t let any and every thing get you down. You have to look at the positive,” said Johnson. “Things could be going so wrong, but you have to think about it -- there’s somebody who is worse off than you. So you have to count your blessings and be thankful.”

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