After grad transfer, Quaide Weimerskirch wants to be fighter pilot



When he was a football player and student at Georgia Tech, former B-back Quaide Weimerskirch sometimes drove to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to watch the planes take off.

Aviation is in his blood – his father, Todd, flew a P-3 Orion (a marine patrol aircraft) in the Navy, Weimerskirch said, before retiring and becoming a Southwest Airlines pilot. As such, the self-described adrenaline junkie aspires to become a fighter pilot. That ambition was part of his rationale for leaving Tech as a graduate transfer and transferring to Division II West Florida.

“I’ve always been interested in being a pilot, just because I’ve grown up with my dad talking to me about it,” Weimerskirch told the AJC. “I would say probably the last five years, I got super interested and decided to do it.”

Weimerskirch is from Pace, Fla., on Florida’s Gulf Coast and about a 30-minute drive from West Florida in Pensacola, Fla. Weimerskirch’s plan is to take flight lessons from his father as he completes his football career.

“It was a hard decision, but what I thought for myself was that it might be better for my future to come closer to home and have my dad teach me how to fly,” he said.

While acknowledging he was ready for a change, Weimerskirch said he has no regrets about his time at Tech. It did not begin well; he enrolled early in January 2015 and had a shot at playing time as a freshman, but was set back when he tore the Lisfranc ligament in his foot. He instead redshirted. In 2016, he found himself behind Dedrick Mills and Marcus Marshall, and in 2017 behind KirVonte Benson and splitting the backup role with Jerry Howard.

“It was a good career,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of good memories. Of course, you always want to be the starting guy, be the man helping the team win as much as you can. Of course, I didn’t get the starting role, and I’m fully fine with that. It’s just every career is a little different, but I contributed to the team as best I could and felt like I made a decent contribution to the areas I could.”

In two seasons, Weimerskirch compiled 17 carries for 70 yards and a touchdown and also contributed on special teams. Of equal importance to him, he earned his degree in business administration, with a concentration in operations and supply-chain management. He needed only 3-1/2 years. He said it wasn’t his plan to finish that quickly, but, taking 15 credits a semester and going to summer school, it fell into place.

“I went there to get a degree and play football, and I came out with both of those,” he said.

West Florida is ascending. The school fielded its first team in 2016 and reached the Division II national championship game last season. Weimerskirch will have two seasons to play for the Argonauts.

As circumstances would have it, Weimerskirch had a former fighter pilot as his position coach. Craig Candeto, who was elevated to coach of quarterbacks and B-backs last year, flew the F-18 Super Hornet combat jet before he was discharged for medical reasons. It’s the same fighter plane that Weimerskirch aims to fly.

“We had multiple talks as I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” Weimerskirch said. “I really wanted to fly F-18’s, and he really gave me good thoughts about going into the military and being a pilot.”

(Actually, Tech can boast of another Super Hornet pilot in its ranks. Jennifer Lentz Moore, who ran and swam for the Yellow Jackets, earned her wings in 2011 flying the stealthy jet.)

After West Florida – he’s seeking a second undergraduate degree, in building construction – the plan is to enroll in the Navy’s 12-week Officer Candidate School, then move on to the Navy’s flight-training program, where he would have to distinguish himself to be selected to be a Super Hornet pilot.

“I like to set high expectations for myself,” he said. “Even if you don’t achieve it, you’ll still achieve something under it.”