Diving Olympian now flies high in F-16
By Justin Oakes, 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 19, 2008
LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --
Few can fathom the intensity of sitting in the cockpit and commanding an F-16 Falcon. Even fewer can comprehend the feeling of competing in the world Olympics - even more so, to represent your nation as a world-class athlete alongside a brother.
For 1st Lt. Justin Dumais, 310th Fighter Squadron student pilot, this is a reality.
It was at age 7, while living in Ventura, Calif., that Lieutenant Dumais first began his 20 year stint as an aquatic athlete.
"My mom used to drive four hours a day for ten years to take us to diving practice," said Lieutenant Dumais.
He is one of five children, all of which received full-ride scholarships to major universities due to their diving abilities.
Through the years Lieutenant Dumais honed his diving skills well enough to dive for the University of Southern California and University of Texas. But he wasn't alone in his endeavors.
Lieutenant Dumais also competed alongside one of his siblings, Troy. Together they competed as a synchronized diving pair and reached a level of performance that warranted a trip to Athens, Greece, for the 2004 Olympic Games. They competed in the 3-meter men's synchronized diving category and landed in sixth place.
"It was an experience of a lifetime," Lieutenant Dumais said. "How many people get the opportunity to compete in the Olympics, let alone with your brother?"
In 2005, both the brothers' dedication and efforts were rewarded. With the support of their parents cheering them on, they traveled to Montreal to compete in the World Championships where they took home a bronze medal.
"It was one of my greatest accomplishments," Lieutenant Dumais said. "It was even more rewarding to have my parents in the stands watching us do what we love."
Currently, Troy Dumais is competing in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in the individual men's springboard event. Lieutenant Dumais chose a different path.
There was also another strong influence in Lieutenant Dumais's life during his younger years - the U.S. Air Force.
"When I was little, I remember going to air shows at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. and wanting to become a pilot," he said.
In 2005, Lieutenant Dumais joined the South Carolina Air National Guard and became a part of the 169th Fighter Wing.
Currently, Lieutenant Dumais has completed his B-course and is undergoing night systems training. He has logged more than 350 flight hours.
"There are some definite similarities between the two jobs," Lieutenant Dumais said. "I've learned to value preparation and adapt and perform in high pressure environments."
After his training is completed at Luke, Lieutenant Dumais will return to his guard unit in South Carolina for two more years of active-duty service. While diving is still part of his life, he doesn't plan to leave the seat of an F-16 anytime soon.
"I would love to retire with the Air Force. I love this job," he said. "It's the best office there is."
Lieutenant Dumais is planning to apply for the Air Force's World Class Athlete program, so he can continue to serve in the U.S. Air Force and still perform as an athlete.
"It would be the best of both worlds," he said.