WHS grad ready to reach for the sky at Air Force Academy

WHS grad ready to reach for the sky at Air Force Academy

Gayle Green, right, has been a mentor to Abby Gatchall, a recent graduate of Wooster High who is off soon to the Air Force Academy.


Ally Gatchall recalls visiting the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado and watching the cadets fly in formation as the moment she knew she wanted to be up there too. That was in 2020.

"Watching the jets fly over was the genesis of my interest in aviation, and I knew at that moment that I wanted to fly," said Gatchall, a summa cum laude 2022 graduate of Wooster High School and the International Baccalaureate Program.

She did indeed learn to fly, and now Gatchall has received an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy. Along with an array of requirements, the academy requires an individual receive a recommendation from a member of the United States Congress or the vice president or president before their application will be processed. Gatchall received recommendations from both U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs.

Gatchall's journey into aviation brought her under the mentorship of Gayle Gorman Green. The two met at an aviation club meeting and began flying together.

"I have mentored young folks my entire career," Green said. "Of all the people I have mentored, Ally is at the top of the list — that was evident to me the day I met her."

In a male-dominated field, Green enjoys the opportunity to mentor women. She said back when she got her helicopter rating, she was asked why she would want to fly and was told women don't need to do that.

"One thing I've learned — you (as a woman) probably need to give more effort than anybody else," Green said. "There is still a double standard — not with everyone, but with some."

Gatchall said, "Gayle has taught me that women belong in the cockpit just as much as men."

The recent grad chose the academy over other aviation and academic options. "I've always loved a good challenge," Gatchall said, "and the academy is just that. It pushes cadets physically, emotionally and academically."

The training at the academy is a four-year program. "Just like any other academic institution but with a few added push-ups," Gatchall said.

Upon completion of the program, Gatchall will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in either the Air Force or the Space Force. A minimum five-year commitment is then required post graduation. "If you go on to pilot training, which I likely will, then it’s a mandatory 10-year fulfillment," she said.

Gatchall is grateful to her mentor and to her family. "Without my family I don’t know that I would have come to the decision on my own to apply for the academy," she said, adding she's anxious for her family to share with her in seeing how her future unfolds.

"Gayle inspires me to keep at my dreams," Gatchall said.

And Green made a firm prediction about the young aviator's future: "She's going to be a four-star general."

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