Embry-Riddle opens doors for three of the world’s top pilots

Flying at the pinnacle of aviation is something most pilots can only dream about. But for a trio of Embry-Riddle alums, it is part of their everyday lives. 

Lt. Col. John Caldwell, Lt. Col. Kevin DiFalco, and Capt. Michael Brewer are members of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron, flying in an environment that demands precision, prowess, and thorough preparation. 

Degrees from Embry-Riddle helped each aviator build the skills they needed to earn their spots on the world-renowned flight team. 

“Being in the cockpit almost every day, all the things I learned from Embry-Riddle directly feed into my career,” said DiFalco, the team’s Operations Officer and pilot of the No. 7 jet. 

Caldwell is the team commander and flies the No. 1 jet. A renowned F-16 pilot, he earned his master’s degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle in 2013. 

Brewer, who flies the No. 3 jet said, “Embry-Riddle is a unique school in the sense that it is so technologically advanced and so focused towards aviation.” 

DiFalco earned his master’s degree from Embry-Riddle in 2014 by taking classes wherever he happened to be serving at the time, including Afghanistan and Italy, something only possible with the flexibility offered by the Worldwide Campus. 

Brewer, who graduated in 2005 from the Prescott Campus and is currently in the master’s degree program at the Worldwide Campus, also worked as a flight instructor and commercial pilot before earning his Air Force commission. 

He offered some simple advice for anyone looking into aviation as a possible career, especially those considering Embry-Riddle. 

“Do it,” he said.