As part of Tuesday’s Catholic Schools Week theme “Light the Way: Through Our Nation” Lt Col Calvin Ball, who is about to serve his second tour as navigator of Air Force One, spoke to the middle school students at Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School. Lt. Col. Ball grew up on Portland, Oregon, and entered the Air Force in 1980 as an enlisted troop right out of high school. During this time, he served as a fireman. In 1984, he left the Air Force in order to attend Oregon State University where he graduated in 1987.
After college, Lt. Col Ball reentered the Air Force as an officer and became a navigator on the C-130 Hercules, a tactical cargo plane. He flew numerous missions and was deployed for Desert Shield/Storm for 7 months.
He left the C-130 in 1997 and entered the VIP airlift world as a navigator on the VC-137. He flew the Vice President, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and members of Congress. One of the airplanes on which he served at this time was the Boeing 707, tail number 26000. This was the aircraft that President Kennedy took to Dallas on November 22, 1963 – the date of his assassination. President Lyndon Johnson took the oath of office as President on this same aircraft shortly before President Kennedy’s body was returned to Washington.
In 2000, Lt Col Ball served a Pentagon staff tour, and in 2002 he joined Air Force One as a Presidential Navigator.
The duties of the Presidential Navigator are to plan and execute the movements of Air Force One. The navigator flies and is responsible for the safe and timely navigation of the President’s 747, known as Air Force One. Lt Col Ball was one of the two navigators for President Bush’s surprise Thanksgiving mission to Baghdad and was also the navigator that brought President Reagan’s body to Washington DC for his State Funeral.
Lt Col Ball will return to Air Force One in June where he will assume the duties of Chief Presidential Navigator.
He has been married for almost 18 years, and his daughter, Kayla, is a seventh grade student at Montgomery Catholic Preparatory School.