CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Marine Capt. Kyle Maschner hit one of the lowest points of his career a year ago when the Blue Angels had told him that he wasn’t good enough to join them.
The rejection by the elite air-demonstration squadron stung. As a young Marine officer in flight training, Maschner had decided to pursue a career behind the controls of the hulking KC-130J Hercules after watching the Blue Angels’ version, dubbed “Fat Albert,” during an air show at the team’s home base at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.
“The Blues inspired me to want to fly a C-130,” the Scottsdale, Ariz., native said.
Nearly a decade had passed since he saw the colossal blue-and-yellow beast lumber into the ether; he had amassed flight hours, deployed to Afghanistan in time of war and served as a flight instructor. It wasn’t enough — at least, not yet.
“They’re very honest and they’re very open in terms of ways you can improve yourself and make yourself more competitive for the team,” the 2006 graduate of Northern Arizona University said.
“They gave me some advice and they said, ‘Hey, here are some things you can do,’ or, ‘Here are some things that we see that we’re concerned about.’ So you can either take those things and be closed-minded and say, ‘No, that’s not me. I’m not going to do that,’ or you can go, ‘Wow. All right. This is how I’m perceived. All right, I need to change this; I need to change this.’”
Some might have folded or moved on. The pilot from Okinawa’s 1st Marine Aircraft Wing just worked harder and came back stronger.
“I took their recommendations and when I came out here, I just tried to do what I could to be a better Marine… and make improvements in my life, whether it was personal, whether it was work, whatever it is,” he said.