Jet Pilot

 

Q&A WITH ALEX HOLLOWAY ’13


 

Jet Pilot

While attending Pomfret, Navy fighter pilot Alex Holloway was inspired to serve his country.

For Lieutenant Alex Holloway, his passion for aviation was sparked by growing up in Newport, Rhode Island, near a naval base, and seeing the movie Top Gun. After being a leader on the Hilltop, he was inspired to serve his country and study at the US Naval Academy. Alex completed three years of flight school and is now flying F/A-18 fighter jets. It is a demanding and challenging career, but there are many rewards — including seeing the world from the sky.


Tell us about your time at Pomfret.
At Pomfret, I became fascinated by economics and US history. I was a prefect and played varsity lacrosse and football, and JV basketball. While on the Hilltop, students were encouraged to take on leadership responsibilities, give back to the community, and be peer leaders. Being a prefect taught me to be a servant leader and inspired me to serve my country.

Holloway suits up before a flight.

Did you always want to serve your country?
Being from Newport, Rhode Island, and living near a Naval base, I was interested in joining the Navy. I was also partially influenced after seeing the movie Top Gun. I loved aviation and flying. Having the opportunity to pursue both and serve my country sold it for me.

What made you decide to go to the Naval Academy?
I could have been in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) while in college or gone to Officer Candidate School after college, but I was interested in the STEM academics — specifically mathematics — offered at the US Naval Academy. By studying quantitative economics, I combined my passion for both math and economics. The students at the Academy are some of the most motivated, helpful, and intelligent people. They are in school for the right reasons and want to serve their country.

Where does your desire to be a leader come from?
My experience being a leader started at Pomfret as a prefect. It was challenging to be an authority figure for my peers, but my experience prepared me for the Naval Academy and the Navy. 

What is your leadership style or philosophy? 
Be humble. Know you don’t have all the answers and be willing to learn from others. Be reliable and credible in your craft. And be approachable — remember where you came from and who helped you along the way, and pay it forward by being available to help those who come after you. 

What is your favorite part about being in the Navy?
It’s a lot of fun and a different path than my friends have taken. It can be exciting and challenging, both mentally and physically. It can be a very demanding job, but it’s also very rewarding.

(fourth from left) Holloway with his fighter squadron, the Jolly Rogers.

You just got back from a nine-month deployment. Tell us about that. 
I was in Strike Fighter Squadron 103, known as the Jolly Rogers, and we recently completed an eight-and-a-half-month deployment. We were on the USS George HW Bush, an aircraft carrier based in Norfolk, Virginia, and spent our time in the Mediterranean. We provided strategic deterrence and strengthened our partnerships with our NATO allies. I conducted joint exercises with our NATO partners all across Europe and had the opportunity to fly with the Spanish Navy, the Greek Air Force, and the French Navy. It was exciting to fly over Hungary, Greece, Italy, and Israel. It was a great way to see the world from a different lens.

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
My proudest professional accomplishment was graduating from the Naval Academy and earning my Wings of Gold as a naval aviator. After I graduated from the Academy, I was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy. I was selected to begin flight school in Pensacola, Florida; chosen to be a Navy jet pilot; and finished training in Kingsville, Texas. After three years, I got my wings. Now, I am flying F/A-18s out of Virginia Beach.

AAEC Vice President Etienne Vazquez '04, Holloway, and Head of School Tim Richards at the Alumni Awards portion of Reunion.

How did you feel when you heard that you had received the 2023 Alumni Association Achievement Medal?
I was very humbled — it’s an honor. Any achievement award is a testament to the people who have helped you. My teachers and mentors at Pomfret and my mentors at the Naval Academy and in aviation are the ones who are deserving of the awards. They are an important part of my success. My award is a testament to their abilities and willingness to help me.

Are there any lessons that you learned at Pomfret that have stuck with you?
During my junior year on the football team, we didn't win a game. After the season, a lot of players left the team. A core group of teammates stuck with it, worked out every day, and returned for our senior season. We played much better and won a bunch of games. It was a memorable experience to go through tough times and stick together when others around us questioned what we were doing. You can learn a lot of leadership lessons during challenging times. You also discover more about yourself and your abilities. Eventually, there will be progress, but it takes time. The pipeline to becoming a Navy jet pilot is very long and challenging. But my experience with the football team reminds me not to give up and to continue working toward my end goals.

If you were to give a Chapel Talk, what would you say? 
I would tell students not to be afraid to take a risk, chart a path for themselves, and pursue whatever goals they want. Don't be afraid if your goals are different from those of your peers. Once you discover what you want your career to be, go for it, pursue it, and stick to it. Surround yourself with motivated people who will push you to the next level. You'll learn as much from your colleagues' experiences as you will from your own. No one can make it through life on their own. Relying on your friends and colleagues to help you is a component of success. 

What do you like to do when you are not flying F/A-18s?
Having a hobby and an outlet outside of your career is so important. I've had the opportunity to surf and snowboard in the many different places I have lived. I also love to play golf. It’s relaxing and fun to get outside — and very different from the high-pressure environment of being a fighter pilot.
 

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