Senior Master Sgt. Aaron Ray

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Senior Master Sgt. Aaron Ray is the 413th Flight Test Group superintendent of aircrew training at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.

Ray began his military career nearly 15 years ago in the active-duty Air Force, conducting aerial refuels as a boom operator. In 2012, he transitioned to the Air Force Reserve with the 370th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, California, and took a position at the group about three years later.

When he’s not reviewing upgrade training plans or helping secure someone’s schoolhouse seat, the dual-qualified Citizen Airman is most likely at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, where he flies, both, the KC-135 and KC-46.

Recently, Ray was named the 413th FTG senior NCO of the year for 2019. Recognizing the number of first-class senior NCOs at the unit, Ray said that the competition was fierce and credited his co-workers and peers for helping him win the award.

“I think we have some of the best aircrew members in the Air Force,” he said. “So they make my job a lot easier. Most of the people who come to our group are highly qualified. Those guys make me look pretty good on paper to win an award.”

Ray said he didn’t have high expectations when he submitted his awards package, but after receiving the notification email stating he won, he said it felt good being able to celebrate with members of the operations section.

Continuing with last year’s success, Ray said he wants to maintain high-caliber training for the group’s aircrew and hopes to make major strides that involve the KC-46.

“One of my biggest, ongoing achievements has been trying to get our KC-46 crew members trained and qualified. In 2019, we made a lot of progress with that. When those guys [functional check fly] their first airplane, I’ll really feel accomplished.”