SAN ANGELO, TX — "I always wanted to fly when I was kid and my dad was in aviation,” said Captain Ethan Pagel.
While only about 3 percent of Marines go on to become pilots, captain Pagel says he was determined to beat some odds.
"We have the smallest tightest group and so I wanted to be a part of that close-knit group," said Pagel.
In a more than competitive environment the Marines pulled in a determined aviator candidate.
"The high standards and the uniqueness that was the marines, the thing that the Marine Corps offers is leadership experience that no other branch can really offer," said Pagel.
He says the job requires them to move heavy equipment, combat troops and supplies anywhere they need to go.
"Our job is to support ground troops in that and conduct our own training as well as conducting training of our own marines on the ground," said Pagel.
These aviator candidates are also directly in charge of Marines under them, mentoring them as they continue to grow together.
"When you get here you’re expected to not only learn a further aspect of your employment of air craft but you’re also given separate ground jobs and collateral duty that you have to be good at as well and balance that with your own proficiency with the aircraft," said Pagel.
And although the training is challenging he says when you plan a long flight that goes right it’s well worth the time in the sky.
"That’s really when the hard work and some of the frustration pays off, is when you see a successful product and when you've completed a successful mission," said Pagel.