Pilot lifts spirits, builds resiliency through sport

  • Published
  • By Airman Ashley Williams
  • 121st Air Refueling Wing
Lt. Col. Don Braskett, a pilot with the 166th Air Refueling Squadron, Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Ohio, began his military career 28 years ago in October 1986 as a crew chief with the 160th Air Refueling Group.

"My sister was in the military. She is two years older than me and joined to pay for college," said Braskett. "At the time, tuition assistance was one hundred percent, so I joined."

After graduating from Capital University, with a degree in Mathematics, Braskett commissioned to become a pilot in May 1995.

Flying is not the only thing he enjoys though. Braskett has a hobby that most people do not share; powerlifting.

"I was reading a story about Laura Phelps," said Braskett. "She's the strongest woman in the world, but at the time I didn't know who she was. She worked out at Westside Barbell with Louie Simmons and she had benched 550 pounds. I'm a big bench presser and I couldn't bench press 550 pounds, so I wanted to know what they were doing that I wasn't."

Then Braskett met with Louie Simmons and started powerlifting six years ago at Westside Barbell in Columbus.

"I went to Louie and I asked 'how do I do this,'" said Braskett. "He spent the day with me teaching me how to do all those things."

Powerlifting is all about technique and it requires a lot of practice, said Braskett.

"It's like a marathon. There are no instant gratifications," said Braskett. "With powerlifting, the returns are really small. I only put on about 20 pounds a year on all my total lifts. Over five years, I've put on 100 pounds on my dead lift, but it's taken me five years to get there."

Now, Braskett squats and dead lifts close to 515 pounds, and bench presses about 400 pounds.

"It's a lifestyle thing, powerlifting is," said Braskett. "I enjoy it because I don't like doing things that other people do. When you go to pick 600 pounds up off the floor, not too many people can do it because it takes a lot of practice, training and consistency."

Braskett plans to continue powerlifting for as long as he can or at least as long as his body allows.

"It's a great stress relief," said Braskett. "You need to be able to take an hour a day for yourself, even if it's just taking a walk, to maintain that resiliency and get the job done."