Westminster High graduate realizes goal of being fighter pilot


August 03, 1998|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHEN JEFF Woolford graduated from Westminster High School nearly 10 years ago, his social studies teacher, Carol Richardson, gave him a four-leaf clover that she received from her father at her college graduation.

"You can have this if you promise to carry it wherever you go," she told him.

The four-leaf clover has been around the world and on supersonic flights with Woolford as he realized his dream of becoming an Air Force fighter pilot.

"I want all the teachers in Carroll County and everyone who helped me along the way to know I made good," Woolford said last week, hours before he left for Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, where he was scheduled to "spin around in centrifuge to get used to an environment similar to combat."

Woolford's military career has taken him, and the four-leaf clover, to Italy, Turkey, Germany, Canada, Texas, Florida and Idaho. He is a second lieutenant with the 175th Tactical Fighter Group at Warfield Air Base in Baltimore County.

It was on a clear night in Texas when Woolford, after fighting the nervousness before his first solo night flight, realized he was going to make it as a fighter pilot and the long journey would be worth it.

"I was flying a T-38, the supersonic jet, just 200 miles north of Del Rio," Woolford said. "I took time to look out of the cockpit and notice the full moon and the stars. It was unbelievable, and I have been relaxed about training since then."

Learning how to dog fight, bomb, hit targets on the ground with a gun -- Woolford said he is living that " 'Top Gun' stuff."

He graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., and joined the National Guard.

"I'm just a blue-collar kid, and I didn't think I had a chance because I didn't get into the Air Force Academy after high school graduation," he said. "But I got into flying through the back door and I'm tickled to death. I hope to keep climbing."

The four-leaf clover will be climbing, too.

Jeff, 27, the son of Arthur and Dorothea Woolford of Finksburg, lives in Catonsville with his wife, Nicole, and their three Labradors, Bristol, Bailey and Shiner.

The dogs have traveled with Woolford, he said. "Sometimes they've watched 200 flights a day. Now they love watching planes fly over [Baltimore-Washington International Airport]. And I'll bet they are the only dogs that look up, too."

Celebrate family day

The Kiwanis Club of Westminster urges families in Carroll County to observe Family Day on Aug. 10.

"Family Day seeks to dramatize family solidarity and pride, reaffirming the family's role as the cornerstone of society," said club President Fran Liggon. "The family is the best vehicle for teaching basic truths and morality to children."

Kiwanis International started Family Day in the late 1960s, and it received immediate endorsement from civic, church, governmental, education and labor leaders. Liggon said Family Day has grown in outreach and effectiveness.

Information: 410-848-6370.

Kits for kids

Shepherd's Staff and Cranberry Mall will collect school supplies to make individual kits for needy children in our community through next month.

All school supplies donated are significant to those families who cannot afford them. Crayons, scissors, pencils and rulers are suggested kit items. Backpacks and notebooks are also welcome.

Donations may be dropped off at Center Court in Cranberry Mall from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Information: 410-857-5944.

Lisa Breslin's Central Carroll neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 8/03/98

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