Air Force ROTC cadet takes flight

Passion leads Mullahey on career path

Joe-Mullahey

By Ann Krebs

Joe Mullahey from Columbus, Ohio, had a couple of requirements when looking at colleges. One, he wanted to stay in Ohio, and two, the university had to have an ROTC detachment on campus. 

Bowling Green State University met those requirements and then some. After visiting campus to see what BGSU had to offer and later hearing there was a flight center on campus, he decided he belonged here. 

Mullahey always knew he wanted to join the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), a college-based, officer training program. Inspired by his grandfather, who was in the Air Force Reserve during the Korean War, and living near and visiting the Quantico military base in Virginia when he was very young, he decided to join the Air Force ROTC (AFROTC) Detachment 620 at BGSU. 

BGSU’s Detachment 620 has been a part of the University for over 60 years, producing officers who have gone on to be general officers, pilots, navigators, engineers, nurses and more. 

Mullahey met the staff at the BG Flight Center to learn more about the aviation program. They took him up in a plane the same day and he immediately fell in love with flying. 

Stephen Oberst, a former U.S. Air Force officer, teaches Mullahey’s private pilot ground class. “The classes are small, and it’s great to talk to someone like Mr. Oberst with countless experiences,” Mullahey said. “He brings his own private pilot knowledge to the classroom.” 

“Joe is an excellent student, showing us here at the BG Flight Center an incredible work ethic,” Oberst said. “He does everything with a professional attitude and he will make a great contribution to professional aviation and the military.”

“The classes are great because they are all at the flight center,” Mullahey said. “Everything is centralized so you don’t have to go all over campus. I’m so glad we have the new facility with the state-of-the-art technology including a full motion Red Bird simulator.” 

Mullahey stresses that all the flight instructors are top notch too. “My current flight instructor, Mr. Don Hallett, knows anything and everything related to aviation,” he said. “We can ask him anything.” 

“Prospective students can go up in an airplane right away to see what it’s like. Many students have never been in a small plane like a Cessna or Piper, which is a lot different than flying with a large commercial airline. Students can see the cockpit and the instruments. It can be inspirational when they are exposed to the experience for the first time," he added. 

Students are guaranteed to fly three days a week and are encouraged to schedule additional flight times including night flights, which is part of the curriculum.

Mullahey was pleasantly surprised how quickly students are able to control the aircraft. If students are motivated, they can work at a faster pace to receive their private pilot license in less than a year. Students can also take their time and move at their own pace. Training can be customized to meet each student’s needs.

“The aviation program is ideal for students because it's a structured Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved part 141 flight school, which allows you to get your private pilot’s license faster,” Mullahey said. 

“BGSU also has excellent curriculum and a well-maintained fleet. Students have a personal relationship with the maintenance people. They allow us to ask questions and have very high standards. The program is safety oriented, students are never put at risk, and instructors are always ready to step in on the radio to guide students if needed.”

Mullahey is also enthusiastic about the AFROTC. He says it’s like a full-time job, but it’s an amazing and great organization. He’s learned and grown as a leader and a person. He’s currently a professional officer course (POC) cadet. The POC cadets plan and execute all the leadership laboratories for underclassmen, and take academic courses to prepare them for lieutenant positions in the Air Force.  

After graduation Mullahey plans to commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force and plans to compete for a pilot position in the spring. He also has interest in becoming a corporate pilot for a large corporation that has its own fleet. 

Mullahey’s voice reveals his passion about the aviation program and people, the AFROTC and his future as a pilot. “Actually flying and seeing the expansive ground below you – there’s nothing else like it.” He said. “It’s such a unique experience and every day l look forward to my next flight.”