CAPE CORAL, Fla. — A Cape Coral native is getting the opportunity to fly a F/A-18 jet into Punta Gorda for this year’s Florida International Air Show.
Ikechukwu Binns, or EK, said the journey to becoming a naval flight officer was a path less traveled.
“I had no military background at all in my family, so I’m the first one to do it,” said Binns.
He graduated from Island Coast High School in Cape Coral back in 2012.
Back then, Binns said his goal was to go to the academy to play football, not become a pilot.
“After my sophomore year of college, I realized I really enjoy this flying stuff,” said Binns.
After graduation, Binns spent the next few years stationed in places like Jacksonville and Washington state, before landing in China Lake, California.
It's in China Lake where Binns said he is with an Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 9 where he plans to help fly an F-18 over 2,000 miles to the Florida International Air Show in Punta Gorda.
It's his first time being featured at this event.
“I think once we land it will be a sigh of relief and then I think it will hit me,” said Binns.
Binns said he couldn’t bring his family with him during his combat tour and his two tours he did in the Arabian Sea.
This event gives him the chance to show those who know him best what he loves to do most.
“I think it’s special to be able to bring a jet to like your friends and family and they can like walk around and basically see what you do for a living,” said Binns.
It's a glimpse into the years of hard work that Binns said he couldn’t have done without the people he grew up with in Cape Coral.
“I am very grateful for all the opportunities and honestly I'm very blessed to have the people in my life who have actually gotten me there,” said Binns.