ABC7 Salutes: Maj. Josiah Gaffney is hoping to change the Air Force when it comes to African American pilots

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KABC) — A recent military report found that as of 2003, only 2% of Air Force pilots were African American, a disparity the service is trying to change.

Well, one man who could help inspire that change was among the featured pilots at last weekend’s Pacific Airshow in Huntington Beach.

Josiah Gaffney, an Air Force major and pilot commander on the PACAF F-16 demonstration team, said he had his first airshow experience when he was just 10 years old.

“It was the first time I saw a fighter plane do aerobatics, like the magic of a very powerful machine, being able to get airborne and watch someone fly, it blew me away,” he said.

Gaffney gave Eyewitness News a glimpse of what it’s like to fly through the skies.

“I want you to imagine that you’re sitting in a very small seat, every time you turn around there’s an elephant sitting on your lap,” he said. “When the jet spins up at 600 mph, it puts a lot of force on your body… that acceleration when you’re changing direction quickly. So it feels like you weigh up to nine times your normal weight.”

Gaffney said it takes a lot of planning and work to create a spectacle like this. He said each hour a pilot flies the equivalent of about nine to 10 hours of ground work — minimum.

“It’s really cool to have the opportunity to represent what’s possible when you follow your goals and achieve them,” said Gaffney. “I think what really inspires me is the opportunity to serve and serve alongside the caliber of people I do. I think this is a great way to inspire the next generation to reach for the stars and be the best they can be.”

Stream the entire Pacific Airshow, including Gaffney’s performance, only on Hulu! Just search for “Pacific Airshow”.

MORE | Female pilots fly the Thunderbirds at the Pacific Airshow

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Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved. ABC7 Salutes: Maj. Josiah Gaffney is hoping to change the Air Force when it comes to African American pilots

Laura Coffey

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