top of page
  • Writer's pictureSantiago Garcia

Advancing to the Air Force Association Spark Tank Semi-Finals

Attached is an article written by the United States Air Force Academy Public Affairs Office highlighting Grind to Fly's selection to represent the United States Air Force Academy in the Air Force Association Spark Tank Competition. Competitors are fighting for full DoD funding to implement their respective ideas in the fleet. Selections for finalists have not been announced. Read below for insight on the vision and motivation for Grind to Fly:

"For Garcia, who developed a program to promote the “ideal flying state,” the opportunity to improve pilot readiness is a personal mission. Garcia was deeply affected by the loss of Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, Thunderbird No. 4, who was killed in a training accident. Garcia met Del Bagno six weeks prior at a luncheon hosted by Central Florida Parents Club.

“Eighty-five percent of these Class A incidents, which have damage that exceed 2 million dollars, are coming from human errors. [They’re linked to] not being able to handle the stress, over-channelized attention on a certain thing, and unexplained physiological incidents,” Garcia said. “I thought, ‘an Airman as great as him, why did we have to lose him?’ and that motivated me to begin work on Grind To Fly.”

Grind To Fly is designed to improve the link between pilots and systems through a series of specific exercises and the proper use of the four pillars of mental toughness (spiritual, mental, emotional and physical).

Garcia, a human factors major at the Academy, said while technology continues to improve, pilots can still increase their own peak performance.

“I play tennis here at the Academy. Tennis players don’t train like a bodybuilder,” he said. “We have tennis-specific exercises that we can do, and [the Air Force] could be tailoring fitness to meet pilot requirements.”

Garcia is partnering with a peer at the University of Florida, who is currently studying hypoxia in rats, to develop exercises that would improve performance and decrease the likelihood of Gravitational Induced Loss of Consciousness, which contributed to Del Bagno’s death.

Garcia, who dreams of becoming a fighter pilot, said that he hopes to encourage a culture that emphasizes peak performance – akin to a professional athlete. “When you step in those fighters, it’s a competition [with the enemy], and you got to be ready to go at any time,” he said.

Full article can be found below:

31 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page