As a child, Stefan Edmiston dreamed of piloting jets.
He is now a flight instructor for the Air Force.
The Washburn Rural High School graduate is eager to talk about the joy of flying with the youngsters at next weekend’s Topeka air show, he told the Topeka Capital-Journal.
“Follow your dreams,” Edmiston said. “They can come true.”
Edmiston, 34, will mingle with the public in a static display featuring his T-38C trainer at the “Thunder Over the Heartland” air show, which takes place June 26-27 at Forbes Field in conjunction with the 25th Annual Kicker Country Stampede Music Festival.
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Air Force 1st Lt. Dale Hupe, a fellow flight instructor originally from Lawrence, will also be in a static display featuring a separate aircraft.
The air show will be “kind of like a homecoming for both of them,” Edmiston’s great-uncle Rich Edmiston of Auburn said.
The Air Force strongly supports the participation of its pilots in air shows, said Stefan Edmiston.
“It’s a huge recruiting tool, plus it’s a morale booster for us,” he said.
Stefan Edmiston said he flew at the opening ceremony for a 2019 airshow in Las Vegas, where he lived before moving to Shawnee County as a high school freshman.
Topeka last had an air show in 2003
Edmiston said he was among those present the last time Forbes Field hosted an air show, in 2003.
At the time, Edmiston was a student at Washburn Rural, where he was on the swim team. He also rode BMX bikes.
For a while, Edmiston said, he lost track of his dream of becoming a pilot.
He joined the Air Force after high school, worked in aircraft maintenance, and was stationed for six years in Japan.
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But Edmiston took online courses to get the training he needed to become an Air Force pilot and obtain his private pilot license in Japan, he said.
He said he went on to train as an Air Force pilot, spent four years flying Boeing RC-135 reconnaissance planes in Omaha, New Brunswick, and then became flight instructor.
He holds the rank of captain and is based in Del Rio, Texas, on the Mexican border about 150 miles west of San Antonio.
Edmiston has stated that he enjoys flying because of the freedom and feelings it gives him.
“When I train it’s a bit like my own roller coaster ride on my own,” he said.
Stefan Edmiston flew over 1225 km / h
Edmiston flew his two-seater jet at speeds up to Mach 1.6. That’s over 1,225 miles an hour.
He said he liked that flying made him think quickly.
“Something is happening every second,” he said. “Every flight is completely different.”
Edmiston said that as someone who flies airplanes almost every day, he sometimes loses touch with the privilege he has to do so.
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But seeing the joy young people get from talking to him and seeing his jet plane helps Edmiston appreciate how lucky he is to fly planes for a living, he said.
Edmiston said he looks forward to seeing family and friends again when he returns to Topeka, where he will fly on Thursday.
He said he had family members in Kansas communities including Auburn, Americus, Bonner Springs, Emporia and Hutchinson.
Edmiston said he was happy Topekans could enjoy an air show again after going 18 years without one.
“Come and enjoy the air show,” he said. “It’s something spectacular.”