A Red, White and Carolina Blue Connection

For Carolina alum and retired U.S. Navy Reserve Captain Robert Herrington ’84, flying high in the sky has always been part of his life.  

His father, Dr. Robert Herrington, who served in the U.S. Air Force as a pediatrician and later joined the UNC School of Medicine, was one of the people who helped Area Health Education Center’s (AHEC) Air Operations get off the ground in 1968. Since then, Carolina’s Air Operations has transported health science faculty, medical residents and university officials to all areas of the state for educational activities.

For the younger Herrington, this exposure to airplanes as a child kickstarted a lifelong passion for planes.  

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do freshmen year, but knew I liked flying,” Herrington said, “so I had started flying on my own at Horace Williams Airport.”

The same Chapel Hill airport his father flew out of while working with AHEC acted as a launching pad for Herrington’s own thirty-year career flying in the Navy and Navy Reserves. There, he took lessons and obtained his Private Pilot’s license while also earning his history degree at Carolina.  

Now a pilot for American Airlines flying across the country, Herrington acknowledges the Red, White and Carolina Blue Challenge for bringing him back to Carolina and wants to help connect others to the initiative.

“Military dependents are a special group of people,” he said. “As a military leader, you’re taught to take care of your troops so the Vetter Scholarships resonated with me. I’ve been involved with several veterans-related nonprofits, but this connected that work with Carolina.”

Learn more about the Red, White and Carolina Blue Challenge.

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