First day back to school was extra special for the students of Rob Ewing’s aviation class thanks to an appearance by LTJG Bret Louderback, a Navy F-18 pilot who graduated from Farragut in 2009. Louderback ‘09, who recently began a tour flying the F/A- 18E Super Hornet out of Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, spoke to the students about his journey from Farragut to the Navy.
“It’s great to come back and give back like this and explain the role Farragut played in my life,” said Louderback, who graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach. “To see how much the classroom has evolved and realize how much the program has grown is amazing. The way (Ewing) and (Jose Hercher) have built this program is incredible. They are a big part of my growth and development. (Ewing) has been more than just a teacher to me. He has been a mentor and a friend to me over the years, as well.”
The students were impressed with Louderback’s words of wisdom, including not taking “no” for an answer, realizing that there is more than one way to achieve their goal, and surrounding themselves with people who “loved being a nerd.”
“It really meant something to have someone like (Louderback) come back and speak to the class,” said Stephanie Bailey ‘18, who has a goal of flying in the Navy. “Knowing he is someone from here who has gone on to achieve such incredible things as a pilot makes me realize how real it is. It’s not just a dream. You can make it a reality if you put in the necessary work.”
Louderback values the impact he and other alumni community have on the current student body.
“You can’t leave a place like this that molded you into the person who you are today and not come back and thank the people who helped form that foundation,” said Louderback, who attended Farragut for six years.
Louderback began taking aviation classes during the program’s infancy and he’s proud to have been a part of its foundation.
“This classroom has come so far and part of it is due to Farragut giving Mr. Ewing that freedom to design the program and the classroom the way he saw fit,” said Louderback.
“It helped me tap into that passion of flying because I learned so much about it from Ewing and Hercher,” said Louderback. “To be able to have that practical application goes a long way in helping you succeed when you get to college. In fact, my first aeronautical class was almost verbatim as Ewing’s class. It definitely made things a lot easier in college.”