Daring Duos: Two Sets Of Twins Chase Flying Dreams Together At MGA

Author: Sheron Smith
Posted: Tuesday, July 13, 2021 12:00 AM
Categories: Pressroom | School of Aviation | Students

Eastman, GA

L-R: Fraternal twins Breland and Sydni Wray and identical twins Chip and Brian Phillips on MGA's Eastman Campus.

When they were growing up in Brunswick, fraternal twins Breland and Sydni Wray loved to hear stories about their Uncle Chad and his experiences flying Black Hawk helicopters for the U.S. Army.

Meanwhile, identical twins Brian and Chip Phillips of Dacula were traveling a lot with their parents and spending considerable time in airports, where both boys gained a fascination for jetliners and the pilots who fly them.

Today, these two sets of twins are classmates at Middle Georgia State University’s School of Aviation in Eastman. The 20-year-old Wray sisters are enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Aviation Science and Management program, focusing on helicopter flight. The 21-year-old Phillips brothers are pursuing the same degree in the fixed-wing concentration.

They are not the first twins to study flight together at MGA, but nobody can recall two sets enrolled at the same time, at least not in recent years.

“We probably get asked five times a day if we are twins,” Brian said. “We joke a lot that we are the most identical twins we know.”

“We have the same friend group,” Chip added. “Our girlfriends are good friends, and we’ve always had the same passions.”

As fraternal twins, the Wray sisters look no more alike than regular siblings, but they are similar in many ways. Both grew up playing the same sports (softball and volleyball), and both love to surf. They tend to start out answering questions simultaneously and laugh at the same things.

“People don’t always know that we are twins, or even sisters,” Breland said, “but they see us as close, best friends.”   

American twins, especially identical ones, are statistically more likely than other close-in-age siblings to pursue the same careers. Still, about 75 percent of twins end up in different professions, according to some research.  

For the Wray sisters and the Phillips brothers, childhood experiences are what seemed to set them on matching career paths.

In addition to their frequent plane travel as children, Brian and Chip’s career choice was influenced by their father, who works in aviation (though not as a pilot), and their older brother, who became an aerospace engineer and now works in Austin, Texas.

After their junior year at a regular public high school, the brothers decided to transfer to Maxwell High School of Technology, which offers a program that teaches the principles of flight and navigation.

As they approached graduation, a retired Delta Air Lines pilot involved with the Maxwell program recommended that the brothers consider Middle Georgia State’s School of Aviation for their practical flight training.

“I couldn’t find Eastman on a map when I first looked,” Chip said, “but we checked it out and enrolled, and the rest is pretty much history.”

“We came here with zero (flight) hours, and three years later we’re both pilots with 250 plus flight hours,” Brian said. “It’s been such a fantastic experience.”

Although the Wray sisters as kids enjoyed hearing about their uncle’s Black Hawk experiences and looking at photos taken of him in places he served, including Afghanistan, it didn’t immediately occur to either of them that flying helicopters was a career option they could pursue.

“We just thought it was cool,” Sydni said.

Their individual decisions to become rotary-wing aircraft pilots did not happen at exactly the same time. For Breland, that time came during a career day at her middle school when she met a helicopter pilot who worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“That’s when I decided that this was something I could do,” she said. “That was an exciting day.”

Sydni made her decision while in high school when she took some discovery flights in helicopters, once while on vacation in Tennessee and another time in St. Simon’s, near her hometown.

Uncle Chad, of course, was thrilled.

“He’s actually the one who recommended Middle Georgia State,” Sydni said, “so we decided to take a look at it.”

As of now, the Phillips brothers are on track to graduate this fall. The Wray sisters are set to complete their bachelor’s degrees in spring 2022.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the post-graduation career goals of the identical twins are practically the same. Both Chip and Brian want to work for a time as certified flight instructors and eventually fly for a major airline. They envision a future where each owns an airplane and can fly friends and family around the country.

“We both see aviation as a lifestyle, not just a career,” Brian said.

The Wray sisters also have similar career aspirations, but Breland is leaning toward joining the Air Force and later flying for an air ambulance service, while Sydni is thinking about the Coast Guard. But the two are also considering possible careers flying for Homeland Security.

Because Brian and Chip are in the fixed-wing concentration while Sydni and Breland are “rotorheads,” the two sets of twins don’t interact with each other that often at the School of Aviation. But all four share an appreciation of having a close sibling by their side as they chase their flying dreams.

“I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t have my brother by my side,” Brian said.

“Same for me,” Chip added. “It’s like having a built-in accountability partner.” 

Breland noted that she and her sister each have their own strengths in the aviation program, giving them opportunities to learn from each other.

“We push each other as well as help each other,” she said, to which Sydni added, “I have someone there encouraging me and someone to study with - and a friend I can always count on.”

Editor's note: Both sets of twins are the subjects of the second episode of "KnightBites," an occasional series of video shorts produced by Ben Sheffield featuring interesting people, places, and things at #MGA