Twin brothers off to a flying start

Identical twins 2nd Lt. Traverse Garvin and 2nd Lt. Dillon Garvin approach the end of their time at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 3, 2017. Their healthy sibling rivalry has helped them achieve their dream of becoming U.S. Air Force fighter pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Jacqueline Jastrzebski)

Identical twins 2nd Lt. Traverse Garvin and 2nd Lt. Dillon Garvin approach the end of their time at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 3, 2017. Their healthy sibling rivalry has helped them achieve their dream of becoming U.S. Air Force fighter pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Jacqueline Jastrzebski)

Identical twins 2nd Lt. Traverse Garvin and 2nd Lt. Dillon Garvin approach the end of their time at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 3, 2017. The brothers will continue their careers by learning to fly the F-22 Raptor at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Jacqueline Jastrzebski)

Identical twins 2nd Lt. Traverse Garvin and 2nd Lt. Dillon Garvin approach the end of their time at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, March 3, 2017. The brothers will continue their careers by learning to fly the F-22 Raptor at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Jacqueline Jastrzebski)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

Ten years ago in Monument, Colorado, locals knew that if you needed your lawn mowed for a fair price, you called the Garvin twins. At $10 a lawn, they spent their teenage years saving for something they’d always wanted.

When identical twins Traverse and Dillon Garvin had finally saved over $3,000, they purchased their first airplane, an Ultralight. It didn’t go much faster than the speed of an average runner but they bought, built and flew it all on their own.

This may seem like quite a feat for the average teenager but for the Garvin twins, flying is all they’ve ever known.

All signs have pointed to the sky. Including their father, a retired AC-130 pilot from the Vietnam era, who inspired them to follow in his footsteps.

“When our father retired, he worked for the airlines throughout all of our childhood, so we were brought up around aviation,” said 2nd Lt. Traverse Garvin.

Their father would take them flying whenever he could. The family lived just five miles down the road from the U.S. Air Force Academy which further helped the Garvin brothers visualize their goal of becoming pilots.

As they got older, they attended Air Academy High School, located within the same boundaries of the U.S. Air Force Academy. It was during these years that the two got their private pilot’s licenses and worked so hard to purchase the Ultralight.

After high school, the Garvins were selected to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy. Their attendance felt like a natural step towards becoming fighter pilots.

“It’s a process to get in and luckily we were chosen,” said 2nd Lt Dillon Garvin. “It was a great opportunity for both of us.”

They had spent the beginning of their lives doing nearly everything together but during their time at the Academy, they were determined to achieve individual success.

“At the academy, we were just generic cadets,” said Dillon.

Although the Garvins flourished individually during their four years of college, they both remained focused on a common goal.

“We knew we wanted to be pilots the whole time, so we tried to orient ourselves in the right direction to be competitive,” said Traverse. “You never know for sure, so we were very fortunate.”

When they found out they had both earned pilot slots, they knew the finest place to continue their education was the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

They arrived at Sheppard to begin training at the prestigious ENJJPT program in July, 2015. Dillon was selected for class 17-03 and Traverse was selected for the following class, 17-04.

When asked if they were hoping to be put in the same training class, the brothers answered “NO,” in unison.

“This was the first time that we had really been different from one another,” said Traverse. “We both think that it worked out better this way."

By all standards, it definitely worked out. Dillon found out first that he would continue his career by flying the F-22 Raptor, a fifth-generation fighter jet.

“The F-22 has the coolest mission, air-to-air, you can’t go wrong with that,” said Dillon.

Just six weeks later, Traverse found out that he would also be flying the jet that he’d always wanted.

“If I didn’t get an F-22, Dillon would always have something to hold over my head,” said Traverse. “I couldn’t let that happen.”

Shortly after finding out their assignments to the F-22 Raptor, the brothers graduated from Undergraduate Pilot Training. They were each named a distinguished graduate of their respective training classes.

Currently, the brothers remain at Sheppard while they finish the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals course.

“None of it really sank in as it was happening and sometimes it still doesn’t feel real,” said Dillon. “Maybe it’ll feel real when we finish IFF but baby steps first.”

The brothers are scheduled to graduate the IFF course and depart Sheppard in June. Their next stop is Florida, where they will learn to fly the F-22 Raptor at Tyndall Air Force Base.

“I’m excited to live the beach life, well, the study life but in a beach location,” joked Dillon.

The Garvins have a humbled understanding of the work it takes to become fighter pilots in the world’s greatest Air Force.

“I won’t say that I fly the F-22 or that I’m a fighter pilot yet,” said Dillon. “We’re both still working for that and it’s all about baby steps.”

At this impressive rate, there’s no telling just how much the Garvins will achieve but you can be sure their modest, baby-step approach will continue to guide them along the way.