Someone You Should Know: Eyes In The Sky

20-Year Old Brandon Valley Grad Is Youngest Mission Pilot In SD Civil Air Patrol

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The South Dakota Civil Air Patrol is made up solely of volunteers who give up their time to keep an eye on others.

One of their pilots, Brandon West, 20, is a Brandon Valley High School graduate who is the youngest mission pilot in their fleet.

Despite his age, flying has already become a huge part of his life.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I was just like I want to become a pilot,” said West.

West has been a part of the civil air patrol since 2010.

He’s served in several tasks, including a mission person search and rescue and finding distress signals from other aircraft.

He’s also had his own private pilot license since he was 17 years old.

His passion for flying, however, got a rolling start years earlier thanks to travelling around the country.

“My family used to go on vacations and we’d ride on commercial airliners and I just absolutely loved flying in the big airplanes. I’d always want to sit by the window and watch outside,” said West.

He said no matter how many time he goes up in the air, the feeling never gets old.

“Every time I fly, I’m just in awe. I’m like a little kid in the candy store,” said West, “I just absolutely love not only flying the airplane itself, just feeling the controls and talking on the radios and just operating the airplane but I also love the new perspective that it gives you.”

He said it provides a peaceful point of view from ground level.

“Getting up and above everything, where you’re kind of alone with yourself, with your thoughts and you have this whole new view of everything around you on the ground and in the air,” said West.

An aspiring nurse anesthetist at the University of Minnesota, he was looking for a way to get involved in his community.

“I just want to make a difference and I want to be able to help people,” said West.

He took his desire to the skies.

“I really loved aviation, I knew civil air patrol was really big into aviation so I was like, well, this is something that I love to do, anyway, so why not go out there and donate some of my time doing something I love so it’s not like work at all,” said West.

He has several goals in mind for his future.

However, his time in the civil air patrol may not hit the brakes.

“I think I will be a lifetime civil air patrol member, always wanting to donate my time and being a mission pilot, because it’s a great community service and it’s necessary,” said West.

While he is pursuing a doctorate degree, the flying doesn’t stop.

He’s also working on getting certified as a flight instructor.