AFA’s StellarXplorers Inspires Students to Explore STEM Fields


Carl Buhler
Carl Buhler

One of the missions of the Air Force Association (AFA) is to promote a dominant US Air Force. The AFA accomplishes this by educating the public on the need for aerospace power and advocating for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education.

Today’s students carry the future of tomorrow’s Air Force. To equip them with the skills they need to pursue STEM career paths and innovate for the future, AFA established StellarXplorers. This is a program that challenges high school students to competitively solve space system challenges involving aspects of spacecraft system development and operations. Students compete in teams of two to six supervised by a team director (teacher).

Teams are drawn from high schools, School Clubs, JROTC, Boy/Girl Scouts, and organized youth organizations. Participation is free up until the first qualifying round where a $200 registration fee is required. Teams receive an academic online curriculum and specific training kit for system simulation software. They also must solve a space design problem. Participants go through three qualification rounds before the semifinal and final rounds. To learn more, please visit

The author, Virginia resident Carl Buhler is the CEO of Buhler Consulting, LLC ( and is a retired Brigadier General from the US Air Force. Carl Buhler is also a member of the AFA.


Redskins signings before Training Camp

As Redskins Training Camp opens today for the public in Richmond, Virginia, I  look forward to attending.  The recent Redskins players who signed will be in camp and competing for a position on the 53-man roster.  I’m confident training camp will be exciting with key positional battles on both sides of the ball.  The 2018 season will be a bright season for sure!

The Creation of the Thunderbirds Patch


Thunderbirds pic

Influenced by the folklore and strong regional Native American culture of the Southwest, the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron was named the Thunderbirds in 1953. Native Americans often depicted the thunderbird in burnt outlines and drawings on buckskin.

The emblem for the Air Demonstration Unit was created by its first solo pilot, Lt. Bob McCormick, based on the image of those early drawings by Native Americans. McCormick developed the patch with a white disc that includes a drawing of the ancient Native American god with a yellow beak and an eye above a “Thunderbirds” inscription. The thunderbird is surmounted by a red circle with a five-point white star in the center.

The author, Carl Buhler, has nearly 30 years of military experience, as an Air Force brigadier general. Early in his Air Force career, Carl Buhler served as a maintenance officer with the Thunderbirds.

Scenic Appalachian Hiking Trails In Virginia


Sinking Creek Mountain pic
Sinking Creek Mountain

Virginia may be best-known for the Appalachian Mountain trails in the western part of the state. These trails offer many scenic viewpoints for hikers of all abilities. About 20 percent of the Virginian Appalachians are in Shenandoah National Park, which offers accessible hiking trails from the spring to fall, plus cross-country skiing in the winter.

Experienced hikers can head to Sinking Creek Mountain in the south. After a challenging climb, adventurers can take in the scenery of Craig Creek Valley. Hikers can also explore the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests in central Virginia, which contain a diverse array of plants and animals, including 150 bird species. Another area with popular hikes, also along the Appalachian trail, is the Devil’s Marbleyard, where a hiker has two options. The first hike has massive boulders covering the side of a hill and the other hike has an incredible 360 degree view of the surrounding Virginia landscape. The boulder hike is generally considered a tougher hike. Also, remember to wear sunglasses if it is bright and sunny, as the reflection on the boulders can be blinding.

The author, Carl Buhler, is in the Air Force and has deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. Outside of his professional life, Carl Buhler pursues his interest in nature-based activities such as hiking.

Did the Washington Redskins do enough in the 2018 draft?

Many Redskins fans believe the Redskins did a great job during the off-season, to include the draft.  But, the question remains…did the Redskins do enough?  It’s generally known the Redskins had the worst run defense during the 2017 season…32nd out of 32 teams.  With their trades, free agency pickups, and the draft, the 2018 season is shaping up to be a very bright season.  Read more in my article.