It takes years of specialized training to become a Navy pilot – classroom instruction, studying, aviation hours, tailhook training, formations.
Dallas Burke has completed all of them.
On Feb. 11, Burke, who grew up in Port St. Joe, received his gold wings after three years of intensive instruction and training, officially making him a Navy pilot. He will begin training to fly F/A-18 Super Hornet jets in California in March.
“I am super excited. It’s what I was hoping would happen,” Burke said, expressing that flying jets had been his first choice when entering the Navy’s aviation program. “But until then,” he continued, “I’m going to enjoy my month off.”
Burke graduated from Port St. Joe High School in 2013 before attending the University of North Florida, where he pursued degrees in chemistry and physics and graduated summa cume laude.
His father, Kevin Burke, said that while his son had always expressed interest in aeronautics, it was his college internship at NASA that pushed him to pursue this career path.
“It was a major turning point in his life,” Kevin Burke said. “It gave him a taste not just for aviation, but for aeronautics.”
Shortly after graduating from college, Burke enrolled in the Navy’s Officer Candidate School, where he studied for a year before completing flight training in Corpus Christi, Texas and Meridian, Miss.
Charlene Burke, Dallas’ mother, said that while her son has always been a keen traveler and is excited for all the places his pilot career will take him, Port St. Joe will always be his hometown.
“Port St. Joe is his home,” she said, “and that’s what he calls it – his home.”