The next best thing: working with pilots
I couldn't fly the planes, but I still wanted to get as close to the action as possible, so I became an intelligence officer. I spent five years in intel and worked with C-17 cargo jets and KC-10 air refueling jets. I led small teams as well as a 32-person Security Forces unit. I deployed to Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. I devoted my time to moving aircrew briefings away from PowerPoint to an interactive presentation in Google Earth where pilots could virtually fly their routes and see the locations and altitudes where planes had been shot at.
The Air Force moved me to the engineering side and I spent three years as a program manager. In that time, I led 40+ people teams on a $14M project to upgrade satellite communications for the E-8 aircraft fleet, and a $36M project to maintain the airframes of the E-11 aircraft fleet.
But a new interest started to develop during a short visit to an Air Force base in Northern California...