PAPA graduate Mitan becomes Black Hawk pilot

Alan Miton (left) completed a year and a half training in Fort Rucker, Ala., to become a Black Hawk pilot Photo courtesy of Alan Mitan

Public administration and policy analysis (PAPA) alumnus Alan Mitan became a Black Hawk pilot in November after several years serving in the military to attain his dream.

Commissioned as an officer in 2010, he waited to attend flight school for two years. He decided to pursue his master’s in PAPA while he waited. Prior to commissioning, he graduated from SIUE with a degree in history and a minor in military science with completing SIUE’s ROTC program.

According to Mitan, entering the PAPA program was a good fit and helped prepare him for the military leadership position.

“PAPA really teaches managerial and organizational theory and when combined with the practical application as a leader in the military this becomes valuable to employers,” Mitan said. “Officers in the military are public administrators. It’s hard for a lot of people to make that connection. The rules and regulations and laws that govern the military help us support and defend the Constitution of the United States. This gives us the unofficial title of keepers of the sovereign.”

In addition, during his two years of education, Mitan said the PAPA program really helped him to “stay sharp mentally for the pilot program.”

Mitan began training to be a Black Hawk pilot in September 2012 following graduation that year. He completed primary and advanced flight school to learn how to be an Aviator at Fort Rucker, Ala. He learned flying techniques, maneuvers and war fighting skills, such as flying a Black Hawk 25 to 50 feet above trees at 110 knots.

According to Mitan, to be a pilot one has “to work for [it] pretty much your whole life.”

“To be a pilot you have to want to do it from as young as being a kid,” Mitan said.

Mitan said he knew early on he wanted to be a pilot and his father and the people he worked with influenced him.

Mitan at a military ceremony earning his wings Photo courtesy of Alan Mitan

“My interest in flying was tailored at a very young age. My father is a pilot and mechanic at an airport …being around that kind of an atmosphere had a big impact,” Mitan said.

Mitan started his military career in high school in the Junior ROTC program as a freshman.

Mitan said he did not know for sure how to become a Black Hawk pilot at first so he enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard at 17 years old as a Black Hawk mechanic in 2004 to get a better idea.

He attended Southwest Illinois College for one year before transferring to SIUE. One of the ways to become commissioned as an officer was to complete an ROTC program and earn a bachelor’s degree. These are also the first steps in order to be selected for the Black Hawk pilot program, according to Mitan.

During his studies in the PAPA program, he fit in one weekend a month and two weeks a year of military training on top of being an intern for Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation and following his internship, as a graduate assistant for the PAPA office.

According to Mitan, the roles of being an army officer and public administrator are two separate but important parts of a bigger picture.

“Public administrators as most people know keep the country running but the military protect the country in order for it to keep it going. Officers run it similar to the way public administrators do. They are helping to sustain the American dream: two separate but equally important things,” Mitan said.




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