Captain Scott Hicks proudly displayed the Texas Tech flag in his last flight through the Mach Loop.
The Mach Loop, a series of valleys in Wales frequently used for pilot training, is one of the few places in the world where photographers can see aircraft flying beneath them and capture it. Photos recently shared on Texas Tech University's Facebook page by Andrew Doggett, features an F-15E Strike Eagle fighter air craft flown by Capt. Scott Hicks, of the United States Air Force. Proudly showcased in the cockpit was a Texas Tech flag.
Hicks' career in the U.S. Air Force
Hicks is a Texas Tech alumnus. He graduated in 2009 with his undergraduate degree and in 2010 with his MBA in the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business. His wife, Ashley Hicks, also graduated from Texas Tech in 2010. They met each other while they were both pursuing their undergraduate degrees in music education in the School of Music.
"I've always been proud to be a Red Raider and wanted to showcase Texas Tech during my last flight in the F-15E," Hicks said. "I wanted to have an image with the Texas Tech flag to remind me of every faculty member and student who helped me get to where I am today."
Although Hicks graduated with an undergraduate degree in music, his entire career is centered on aviation and the military.
"I grew up immersed in aviation," Hicks said. "My father was retired from the Air Force and a civilian flight instructor, so I just thought it was totally normally to grow up flying airplanes with your dad. In many ways, I thought I was always going to go into the Air Force to fly until my junior year of high school, when I decided that I wanted to dive into music, my other passion. I had been an all-state musician in New Mexico and loved it so much that I wanted to focus exclusively on music for my university studies."
Much as he enjoyed his time as a music major, by the time he reached his junior year, he still envisioned himself flying fighter jets in the U.S. Air Force. Hicks said he decided to finish his music education undergraduate degree and enter the Air Force directly from the civilian world by applying for an Office Training School slot. When this didn't work out, Hicks enrolled in the Air Force ROTC 820 (ROTC) at Texas Tech and worked on his graduate degree simultaneously.
Col. David Lewis was the commander of the Air Force ROTC during Hicks' time as a cadet. Lewis also spent time in the Air Force as a fighter pilot. Texas Tech was his last assignment on active duty. In 2009, he joined the faculty at Texas Tech as the director of the Strategic Studies program.
"I distinctly remember Scott, as he joined our ROTC program late in his academic career," Lewis said. "He was an exceptional cadet and highly focused on a future career in Air Force aviation. I knew very quickly he would be a great officer; I'm pleased to watch from a distance as he achieves wonderful things in our nation's Air Force."
The next two years were busy for Hicks. He graduated from Texas Tech with an MBA, an officer's commission and a pilot slot.
"After that, I attended undergraduate pilot training at Sheppard Air Force Base to learn to fly, got selected for the F-15E and did another year of training on the T-38 and F-15E jets before being stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina," Hicks said. "I flew the F-15E there for almost four years before being stationed overseas at Royal Air Force Lakenheath in the U.K. That was another three-year assignment of flying the F-15E and having the amazing opportunity to fly through the Mach Loop where the picture was taken."
Hicks has been deployed to combat in the Middle East twice, two years in a row; first in the summer of 2016, and again in the summer of 2017. He was stationed in North Carolina from March 2013 to October 2016 and in the U.K. from January 2017 to November 2019.
"I found it immensely rewarding to put five-plus years of training to work on both of those deployments, protecting friendly forces both on the ground and in the air," Hicks said. "Getting to serve along the amazing people in each of those squadrons has been the pinnacle of my experience in the Air Force so far."
Family and return to the U.S.
Though neither Hicks nor his wife, Ashley, currently has a career in music, both enjoyed their time as music majors.
"We met in the music building at Texas Tech," Ashley said. "It's kind of a funny story because we knew about each other, yet it took a year for us to officially meet. We had a mutual friend who introduced us, we became fast friends and then started dating a few months after."
Scott Hicks was the drum major of the Goin' Band from Raiderland in fall 2007, and in 2008, he was a student teacher at Monterey High School. Each year during her undergraduate program, Ashley sang in the choir for Carol of the Lights®.
"It was cool, because I felt like we knew almost everyone in that building," Ashley said. "It was like having the biggest family ever and you knew the professors, too. I can honestly say that we both had a fabulous experience in the music department."
The Hickses still like to attend concerts and play music whenever they can. Ashley has spent time teaching in all sorts of grades and subjects as a military spouse, but is currently the chief transformation officer for a company called End of Three Fitness, which was founded by another Texas Tech alumnus, Jerred Moon.
Hicks recently got stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. He's learning to fly a new aircraft, the F-35A, and will teach new pilots once he's a qualified instructor. He'll be stationed there for at least three years. He's hoping to visit Texas Tech during this time so their son, Conner, can see the Goin' Band and a Texas Tech football game.
"We loved living overseas, but are very happy to be back in the states and closer to our loved ones," Ashley said. "A Lubbock trip is a must. We would love to go to a Texas Tech football game in the fall of 2020."
Photos courtesy of Andrew Doggett, Dafydd Phillips and Scott and Ashley Hicks. Video courtesy of Dafydd Phillips.