Nick Atkins ’12 Featured on KARE-11’s Land of 10,000 Stories

Posted on September 30th, 2014 by

Nicholas D. Atkins, Second Lieutenant, United States Air Force

Nicholas D. Atkins, Second Lieutenant, United States Air Force

Back in the summer of 2011 when he was a rising senior at Gustavus Adolphus College, Nick Atkins ’12 completed a six-week internship through NASA’s Student Airborne Research Program. It was then and there, after flying aboard NASA’s DC-8 aircraft, that Atkins decided he wanted to join the U.S. Air Force and become a pilot.

Last week, KARE-11 reporter Boyd Huppert told the story of Nick and his 92-year old Grandfather, as part of the station’s ongoing series, Land of 10,000 Stories.

After graduating from Gustavus with a degree in physics in the spring of 2012, Atkins took about nine months off before beginning the U.S. Air Force’s nine-week Officer Training School (OTS). Upon graduation from OTS, Atkins was commissioned as a second lieutenant and was sent to Pueblo, Colorado for Initial Flight Screening.

Atkins spent about a month in Pueblo flying a DA-20, a single seat, 125-horsepower plane–. He then moved on to 13 months of Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT) at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas. Atkins performed his primary aircraft training, which includes 90 hours of flight training instruction and 22 weeks of training, in a T-6 plane—an 1100-horsepower turboprop trainer. He then completed his advanced aircraft training, which includes 120 hours of flight instruction and 24 weeks of training, in a T-38 plane—a supersonic jet trainer. He will now return to Texas to serve as a T-6 instructor pilot for the next three years.

Atkins credits Gustavus for not only helping him excel during OTS and SUPT, but for inspiring him to earn the Citizenship Award during SUPT.

“Gustavus really prepared me academically for what I’m doing now,” Atkins said. “Gustavus also really embodied me with a service oriented mindset. I knew that I wanted to make something out of my life and Gustavus gave me that passion.”

Atkins was also driven to serve in the U.S. Air Force by his two grandfathers, who were both pilots during World War II. One of Atkins’ grandfathers, who is now deceased, was a B-17 instructor pilot during the war who logged 34,000 total hours in the air during his career. His living grandfather, 92-year old Bob Jorgenson, made 35 missions as a fighter pilot during the war.

After listening to his grandfather tell stories about his piloting days while growing up, Atkins had a dream of taking his grandfather up in a plane for a ride together.

Huppert and KARE-11 tell the rest of the story:


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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