Andrew Goldtrap is thankful and humbled that he will follow his older brother's footsteps into the U.S. Air Force Academy.
The 18-year-old Subiaco Academy senior has been accepted into the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based academy. Goldrap's brother, 19-year-old Christopher "Pierce" Goldtrap, currently is a freshman at the academy and recently declared his major, astronautical engineering.
"I first got a call from Sen. Tom Cotton himself, which was pretty cool," Andrew said. "I am very excited to be pushed to my limits to see what I can do."
The sons of Robert Goldtrap of Little Rock and Cara Hewett of Fort Smith, the Goldtraps received nominations to be admitted to the Air Force Academy. Christopher received a nomination and appointment from Congressman Steve Womack. Andrew received his nomination for the academy from Sen. John Boozman and Sen. Tom Cotton; Boozman, Cotton and Womack also nominated Andrew for the Merchant Marine Academy.
The Goldtraps' grandfather, Robert Johnson of Fort Smith, is proud that Andrew will be accepted into the academy.
"The family is really excited about this," Johnson said.
Christopher, a 2017 Southside High School graduate, said he is more than ready to have his brother join him at the academy.
"The hardest part is getting a nomination," he said. "Andrew got his nomination over Christmas break."
Christopher described his own major as one that simultaneously is difficult and exciting.
"Not many colleges offer astronautical engineering; they have a great astro program and lab here at the academy," he said.
Christopher added that life at the four-year academy, like his major, can be challenging. Cadets are responsible for passing numerous science courses in order to graduate, he said.
"It's very difficult to get in, and if you go into the academy, you are required to do five years of service," Christopher said. "If you are a pilot, you have to serve a minimum of 12 years.
"And there's a limit on students who can be in the academy; there's only 4,000 cadets now," he added. "We started out with 1,148 students in my class, and now we're down to 1,050. Some cadets are weeded out, naturally."
The academy's physical and mental demands can be "taxing" at times, Christopher said.
"We have to go to classes during the day, but we have to wake up at 6:30 a.m. every day; we have to have our rooms in order at all times," he said. "We have training sessions, and we do things like push-ups and all of these things, all in a training environment.
"They are expecting you to do a lot more than you think you can do," Christopher added. "They are testing you to push through mentally and break that natural inhibitor — to say, 'Let's try one more time.' It's hard to balance those, and the stress is what people have a hard time with, really."
After a little time, Christopher became accustomed to the stress and vowed to "stick it through" when it came to his cadet responsibilities.
"For the first semester, I was ranked 17th in my class academically," he said.
Andrew also hopes to do well academically.
"Life at the academy with my brother will be incomparable to anything else," he said.
The thought of working as a pilot appeals to Christopher the most. Flying a fifth-generation aircraft such as an F-35 or an F-22 would be ideal, he said.
"However, it isn't up to me on what plane I get because the military decides that," Christopher said. "You can put in a preference of what you want when you are a senior, and they base that on your academic and physical merit. You are rated by a mix of academics and physical examinations.
"You're scored based on your time — I had to run 1.5 miles today — and later, there's a muscular test. That all goes into your overall performance file, and if you get to be a pilot, you go to pilot school. The more desired planes are given out to those at the top of their class."
Although he's unsure exactly what he will study while at the academy, Andrew predicted it will be something related to mathematics.
"I might major in calculus, and my main goal is to be a pilot," said Andrew, who is a member of Subiaco's student council, soccer team and traveling jazz band. "I want to be a pilot in the Air Force or fly commercial. My uncle, Curt Goldtrap, is a commercial pilot. I had decided about four years ago to become a pilot."
Christopher and Andrew both described their relationship as close. The two Havelock, N.C., natives scrapped somewhat as some siblings often do when they were younger, according to Christopher.
"We're now really good friends," he said. "I'm glad my brother is going to be coming here to the academy."
"Yes, my brother has inspired me," added Andrew. "I'd say we are pretty close."
Christopher cited his grandfather, Curtis Goldtrap, as his major inspiration for wanting to attend the academy.
"He went to the Naval Academy, so I wanted to go to a military academy," Christopher said. "I originally put my primary academy choice as the Naval Academy, and the Air Force Academy as my second choice."
During his interview process, it became apparent to Christopher that the Air Force Academy felt more like home.
"I've known from a very young age that I wanted to do this," he said of his passion for the academy. "And I think Andrew is a little inspired by me coming here. I think I rubbed off on him, so he wanted to get in, as well."
Christopher admitted he was surprised by his nomination. At the time, he hadn't applied to any other colleges.
"If I didn't get accepted into the academy, I didn't have a backup plan then," Christopher said.
These days, Christopher is leaving his options open when it comes to the possibility of a career with the Air Force.
"I would like to be involved in space, and I could go to work for Space Command here in Colorado Springs, or I could be a pilot," he said. "If things don't pan out, I might pursue a career in the civilian world concerning space."
Andrew is hoping he and Christopher both make a positive difference at the academy and in life.
"I've been training so hard," Andrew said. "I have a lot more to do to be prepared for Basic Cadet Training."
Patriotism is something Christopher has felt for years.
"The military gives up a lot of freedom to go out and protect everyone else's freedoms," he said. "I like that — the idea of service before self. It's really about putting others before yourself, and that is a good value to have, whether we all are in the military or not. I wanted to be an upstanding citizen."