2024 Gala Honoree – W. Blake Bourland

W. Blake Bourland

W. Blake Bourland, a Fort Worth, Texas native, began his military journey at the United States Air Force Academy. Graduating in 1978, he entered the United States Air Force, initially focusing on Aircraft Maintenance Officer training at Chanute AFB, IL. Following a medical grounding, he transitioned to Nellis AFB, Nevada, overseeing Aircraft Maintenance Units.
In 1981, he received a waiver to fly and attended pilot training at Reese AFB, Texas, earning his wings in 1982. Blake then underwent F-4D RTU at Homestead AFB and subsequently flew the F-4E at Seymour-Johnson AFB, North Carolina from 1983 to 1986. His next assignment was at Taegu AB in South Korea, where he served as an instructor and evaluator in the F-4E from 1986 to 1988.
Despite being offered an F-16 assignment in Korea, Blake opted to fly A-7s at Nellis AFB, NV, eventually becoming involved with the F-117A Stealth Fighter program. During his tenure at Nellis AFB/Tonopah Test Range, he served as an instructor and evaluator in the F-117A and AT-38. Notably, on 19 August 1990, Blake deployed to Saudi Arabia with the 415 TFS, participating in the first wave of Stealth Fighters bombing Iraq on 17 February 1991 during Desert Storm. Post-Desert Storm, he returned to Tonopah as the Assistant Operations Officer in the 417 TFTS.
In June 1992, Blake separated from the Air Force as a Major and transitioned to flying for Caesars Palace. In 1994, he joined Southwest Airlines, where he spent 26 years, including 21 years as a Captain. Currently retired in Fort Worth, Texas, Blake enjoys his retirement with his wife Dorothea, two children and six grandchildren.