The presenting sponsor for this month’s South Lake Chamber of Commerce Breakfast was The Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida. Spokesperson Mark Graff told of his commitment to the organization and the positive impact it provides to the community. The Boys and Girls Clubs inspires all young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.
Eric Rivadeneir, a 4-year club member had no problem giving an outstanding introduction on featured speaker Captain Donnie L. Cochran.
Retired United States Navy Captain Cochran was the first African-American Pilot to fly with the United States Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, The Blue Angels.
Captain Cochran grew up on a farm near Pelham, GA. He was a 1976 graduate of Savannah State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering Technology and a Commission in the United States Navy.
Captain Cochran’s Navy career included duty as a fighter pilot, flying the RF-8G and F-14A & D from the decks of the aircraft carriers USS Nimitz, USS Coral Sea, USS Enterprise, USS Ranger and the USS Kitty Hawk. Captain Cochran’s distinguished career also included two tours with the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, The Blue Angels. Captain Cochran flew the number three jet and was the last Blue Angels team to fly the A-4F Skyhawk. In 1987 Captain Cochran flew the number three Jet for a second year and was the first Blue Angels team to fly the F-18 in a Blue Angels airshow. In 1988, Captain Cochran flew the slot pilot position flying the number four jet in his final year as a Blue Angels demonstration pilot.
In 1994, Captain Cochran was honored again by his selection as the first African-American pilot to be Commanding Officer and Flight Leader of the Blue Angels. During his tours as a Blue Angel pilot, he flew over 2,200 hours in more than 300 air shows before over 30 million spectators throughout the United States and Canada. Captain Cochran had the unique honor of flying three of the six flying positions as a Blue Angels pilot and flight leader.
He also served as the Professor of Naval Science at Florida A&M University and Florida State Universities. His final assignment, he served as the Deputy Commander, Navy Recruiting Command, second in command of over 7,000 people at over 1,500 locations around the nation and abroad. He was a command pilot with ratings and experience in 9 types of aircraft and over 6,000 hours of flight time.
Captain Cochran retired from the Navy in November 2000 and continued his extraordinary contributions to aviation in the civilian aviation industry. He was a flight training supervisor for United Parcel Services UPS and a manager of Aviation Programs for the Coca-Cola Company for 10 years.
Now, Captain Cochran is a recognized expert and “motivational teacher” in both the military and business sectors, who inspires high-performance in individuals and organizations to achieve heightened and sustained performance in both their personal and professional lives.
The impressive Captain Cochran didn’t let the attendees down as he gave his motivational presentation on “The 5-Cs and an A”: Character, Competency, Commitment, Communication, Courage and Accountability.
This was one of the only breakfasts that attendees could be seen taking notes.