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By Allie Martin

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (WCBI) – The United States Air Force has 20 new pilots.

On Friday morning, 18 men and two women received their silver wings during graduation ceremonies at Columbus Air Force Base.

For as long as she can remember, Second Lieutenant Becca Ball has wanted to fly airplanes.

“My dad said 9, age 9, I think it started way before that.”

She grew up around aviation and the military. Her dad, Steve, is a pilot and a retired Lieutenant Colonel with the Washington Air National Guard. Becca’s older brother, Lieutenat Colonel Tony Ball, pilots the KC 135 Stratotanker, with the 116th Refueling Squadron, the same unit their dad served with.

Both sat in the audience, Friday, proudly watching Becca receive her coveted silver wings.

The newest pilot in this family says the last year has been tough, but worth all the hard work.

“We started with a class of 30. We now have a class of 20, but we spent a solid year together. We were together for at least 12 hours a day all day. You get to know each other very very well,” Becca said.

Now, she will head back to Washington state to learn how to fly the same tankers her brother flies in his unit.

“I’m definitely lucky to be his little sister, and I know he will be able to help me out, maybe in some ways, more than he would help other people out just because I will see him outside of work. I will see him at work,” Becca said.

Becca’s brother says he’s not surprised his little sister made the cut.

“Proud brother, but also somebody who went through the program. I know how hard it is and what a great achievement it is so that’s cool,” Lt. Col. Tony Ball said. “The other hat I wear is I’m chief of training in my unit, so I’m excited to get back a new pilot I know has that inherent core value. She’s a full rounded airman.”

Becca’s dad knows his daughter will travel the world in aerial refueling missions, and passed along some fatherly advice.

“Work hard to be the best,” said Lt. Col. Steve Ball. “If you’re the best, you are the safest , and probably the most effective.”

And Becca has a few words of encouragement for those who want to fly with the U.S. Air Force.

“Pave the way for themselves, to stay in school, study hard from the very beginning and start making really good choices for themselves and to think ahead as well to figure out what kind of path they’re going to want to take and how that’s going to affect them in their future,” she said.

Becca heads to Washington State for her new assignment on Monday.

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