Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Air Force pilot's path began at Bloomingdale High

RIVERVIEW

Sometime next month, Lt. Robert Consiglio will guide his U.S. Air Force C-130J over the mountains of Afghanistan, possibly aiming to land on a narrow, dirt strip.

Thick humidity and high elevation may add to the challenge of guiding the 80,000-pound "Super Hercules" to a safe landing, especially if it's loaded with some 30,000 pounds of fuel and equipment for soldiers in combat.

Despite the challenges, Consiglio will be right at home, living his dream.

It's a long way from playing tuba in the Bloomingdale High School band.

When Consiglio, currently stationed at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, deploys for Afghanistan next month, his assignment will be a subtle reminder for us back home that we continue to be a nation at war. Not surprisingly, it's a role he embraces despite his laid-back attitude.

"I'm excited to get over there and actually do something," said Consiglio, who spoke with a gleam over burgers at Green Iguana on Tuesday.

The path to Air Force pilot began earnestly for Consiglio when he was a Bloomingdale senior in 2005. He earned an appointment to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and began to embrace the discipline and structure of the military — along with weather that's a bit colder than Tampa Bay's mild winters.

"I wasn't a fan of winter up there," Consiglio laughed. "Snow is fun — for about the first day."

Engineering was his first career goal, but he emerged from the academy with a ticket to pilot training.

Naturally, I asked if he dreamed of Top Gun and being the Air Force's version of Maverick or Iceman. Pilots, he said, often end up paired with aircraft that match their personalities, and the C-130 matched his more easygoing persona.

Fighter pilots end a mission full of intensity and immediately go through formal debriefings. C-130 pilots land, take care of a few things, and then look to start the grill and have a good time.

Don't think for a minute, however, that Consiglio doesn't bring expertise and passion to his job. He recently participated in a record-breaking formation of 16 C-130J planes at Dyess.

"It's awesome," Consiglio said of being a pilot. "You feel very free, like you can do anything. It's every empowering.

"It's really fulfilling," Consiglio added. "Everyone I work with is the best or the smartest at what they do. It's really awesome to be around such a good group of high-achieving guys and girls."

On the surface, Consiglio provides us an everyday story of a hometown boy done good, but he also recognizes how blessed he is to have earned this opportunity. The Air Force not only gives Consiglio the chance to pursue his dreams, but the chance to build friendships that will last a lifetime.

No matter what city he visits, he will probably know someone there from his military travels. No matter if he serves 10 years or 25, he can always say, "I served."

When veterans are asked to stand and be recognized at an event, I always look on with admiration — and a little envy.

Some may ask why our nation has chosen to engage in wars and conflicts, but those time-honored traits displayed by the men and women who serve — honor, duty, courage — cannot be questioned.

Consiglio isn't playing the tuba anymore, but if he wanted to toot his own horn, I wouldn't mind at all.

That's all I'm saying.

Air Force pilot's path began at Bloomingdale High 08/09/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 9, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Once trapped and wounded, manatee and calf return to the wild

    Wildlife

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The small crowd readied cameras and craned their necks, peering over heads and through bodies to try and catch a glimpse. Brittany Pharel, 10, wanted to see the hulking manatees, a mother and her calf, laid out on blue tarps Thursday along the edge of the Pithlachascotee River.

    Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo's associate veterinarian Lauren Smith, 33, examines the heart rate of a manatee calf named Cottee just before it was released into the waters of the Pithlachascotee River on Thursday. 
Cottee's mother Pascow was released at the same time in New Port Richey. 
The pair became stranded in May and the mother was found wounded. They needed to be rehabilitated before they could be released into open waters. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]
  2. Gov. candidate Chris King: Climate change is biggest threat to Florida's economy

    Blogs

    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King today made his case for how economic growth and fighting climate change go hand in hand. His rivals for the Democratic nomination, Gwen Graham, …

    Winter Park businessman Chris King and his family
  3. Editorial: Buckhorn's proposed tax increase is too high for Tampa

    Editorials

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's proposed city budget for 2018 confronts some hard realities of the times. With debt payments looming and another fire station opening in fast-growing north Tampa, the City Council needs to consider raising property taxes, especially with the prospect of another homestead exemption around the …

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s proposed city budget for 2018 confronts some hard realities of the times. But it seems overly ambitious, and the City Council should be cautious about raising taxes too much in a single swoop.
  4. The next step in a sex abuse survivor's recovery: Erasing her tattoo

    Health

    TAMPA — Even after 20 years, Sufiyah can't escape the memories of being sexually exploited by gang members as a teenager.

    The tattoo makes it impossible.

    Sufiyah, an aAbuse survivor, prepares to have a tattoo removed  at Tampa Tattoo Vanish  on Thursday. During her teen years, she was sexually exploited by a gang. The tattoo is a mark of her exploiters. 

Tampa Tattoo Vanish is a new tattoo removal business run by Brian Morrison, where survivors of human trafficking get free tattoo removal.  [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  5. Cridlin: Linkin Park's Chester Bennington had a wail that stood apart

    Music & Concerts

    For all the old-timers' talk about how they don't make singers like they used to, about how rock vocalists of the 21st century can't hold a candle to the frontmen of yesteryear, here's a fact no hater could deny:

    Chester Bennington could flat-out wail.

    Chester Bennington of Linkin Park  performs at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa for the 2014 Carnivores Tour. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]