2019 Tillman Scholar

Blaze Belobrajdic

Marine Corps
Texas A&M University
M.S., Aerospace Engineering

“I will decrease human factors-based flight mishaps through comprehensive research and cognitive training protocols.”

Blaze started his military career in 2001 as a Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy. Originally, he wanted to fly jets for the U.S. Navy with aspirations to eventually become an astronaut. However, after 9/11 and witnessing the War on Terror’s progress, Blaze sought a more active role. In May, 2005, he commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps to become a helicopter pilot. Over Blaze’s 12-year career as a UH-1Y pilot, he deployed three times to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and once while attached to Special Operations Command – Africa.

Blaze’s last billet was as a Fleet Readiness Squadron instructor pilot and the squadron’s Director of Safety and Standardization. He quickly gained a greater appreciation of human factors considerations for aviation safety but noticed informational gaps in applications of situational awareness, specifically with task saturation. Many of his fellow aviators and friends perished due to mid-air collisions in high-operational tempo environments.

After leaving active duty, Blaze began graduate school at Texas A&M University seeking a Master’s of Aerospace Engineering. He feels the aviation community, both commercial and military, will benefit from comprehensive and application-based research into aviation human factors.

Blaze has not forgotten what it means to serve. He wants to bring veterans and the local community together by establishing town hall forums, encouraging people to interact and share their unique experiences. He believes it will both heal veteran trauma and engender communal solidarity. Blaze is a leader and understands its establishment is his responsibility.