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Following Dreams

"USAF Thunderbirds Flight Surgeon"

Taylor: What is a flight surgeon?

Maj. Quayle: Well, there are flight surgeons in all the branches of the military. In the United States Air Force, our primary responsibility is to take care of everyone on flying status; not just pilots, but also navigators, load masters, combat photographers, and all sorts of people that are in flying duty. A flight surgeon is a doctor who has special training in aerospace physiology. They have to have knowledge of all the things that can go wrong with the bodywhile flying.

Meeting Maj. Quayle for the interview.

Taylor: How long have you been one?

Maj. Quayle: I’ve been a flight surgeon for a year and a half, but I’ve been a doctor for 9 years.

Maj. Quayle during an autograph session with one of her many fans.

Taylor: What kind of unique experiences have you had while being a flight surgeon?

Maj. Quayle: It’s unique because I get to fly in a jet. On this team, I get to fly in an F-16 and one that’s painted red white and blue (representing the Thunderbirds). Our job is to represent men and women all around the world in the Air Force.  It’s a privilege to be able to do that and it’s definitely a unique aspect of my job.

USAF Thunderbirds pilot ready for take off!

Taylor:  What school did you go to and what kind of skills do you have to have to become a flight surgeon?

Maj. Quayle: I was an honor student and had a 4.2 grade point average when I graduated from high school.  It got me into the pre-med program at California State University Fullerton where I obtained my degree in biology with a minor in bio-chemistry. I began researching the scholarship programs available for the Air Force and Navy. They fund people going to medical schools, as well as, optometry and nursing. I came from a family that didn’t have a lot of money, so I was putting myself through collage and working full time. The Air Force not only paid for medical school, but what an amazing way to get medical training and serve my country. I went to Western University in Pomona, California and my degree is as a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) not an M.D.  Becoming a D.O. gives me the extra skills that I can use in the field.


Taylor: What were your dreams around the age of 12 years old?

Maj. Quayle: My mom was a mid wife and when I was a young girl, I was able to see babies being born. It was amazing! My sister was born when I was nine-years-old, so I was there to see her birth. I knew then that I wanted to be a doctor. Originally, my dream was to be an OB. GYN. Doctor. So I studied hard and got good grades. I wasn’t always successful along the way though, but I didn’t let that stop me because I knew that this was my ambition in life. To have been given this opportunity, I am arguably one of the luckiest people on this planet!


Taylor: Were you involved in any school programs or sports?

Maj. Quayle: In high school, I played soccer, ran cross-country and track, and started taking dance classes. I even tried out for a dance production and made it.


Taylor: Do you remember having any peer pressures?

Maj. Quayle:  Not really. I’m not sure if it’s wonderful parenting or just me being so strong. My mom would have taken the shirt off her back in the middle of a snowstorm for any one of her six kids.  It made me confident. When you are confident in yourself and what you do, peer pressure doesn’t even bother you.


Taylor: What kind of friends did you try to surround yourself with?

Maj. Quayle: Because I was very academic, I had a lot of geeky friends. We were involved in the academic decathlon and all of the clubs and such. On the athletic side, I had friends from team sports.  We would get together and play tennis, volleyball or ride bikes. I also had a horse, so whenever I needed to get some stress off, I’d saddle up with some friends.


Taylor: What was one of your fondest memories growing up?

Maj. Quayle: Probably seeing my sister being born was the fondest memory. I remember it vividly and it was almost thirty years ago!      


Click to play a "shout out" from Maj. Charla Quayle


Don't miss the USAF Thunderbirds when they come to your town!

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