July 11, 2012
Bloomingdale Grad Earns Wings And Trains To Become Hurricane Hunter
Captain Bonnie Devon Meister in front of a T-38C Talon, a fighter trainer aircraft, in Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.
By Alicia Squillante
As the only female in her graduating class, captain Bonnie Devon Meister recently graduated from the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program (ENJJPT) and will continue training to become one of the prestigious Hurricane Hunters.
Formerly known as Devon Plesco, of Brandon, Meister started her military career after graduating from Bloomingdale High School in 1998. After graduating from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s in Mathematics, Meister was commissioned in to the Air Force and attended the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterrey, Calif. Later, she completed her bachelor’s in Meteorology and became a weather officer at Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.
After several years, Meister joined the Air Force Reserves and enlisted in pilot school. While there, she spent her days in school training with the aircraft and her nights studying.
Her mother, Bonnie Plesco, took time from her job at Albano Chiropractic to help Meister care for her young son, Gabe. “We knew the training would be intense,” said Plesco. “Twelve-hour training days plus after-hour studying led to frequent 15-hour days. In addition, there were weekends away from home for cross-country training flights.”
The year of intense training paid off. In April, Meister graduated from the ENJJPT and received her wings from Col. Donald R. Lindberg, Wing Commander of Homestead Air Reserve Base in southern Florida.
Meister is currently training for her new position as a pilot for the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, better known as the Hurricane Hunters. Stationed out of Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Miss., Meister will be piloting the C-130J
Hercules, the latest turboprop used by the Hunters. As pilot, Meister will oversee a small crew each and every time a hurricane threatens.
Being a part of the Hurricane Hunters will allow Meister to have normal working hours throughout most of the year, only needing to be on call during hurricane season which runs through Friday, November 30.