Pilot is out... now what?


At the end of my freshman year, I learned that although my vision was 20/20, my corneas were not properly round so I couldn't be a pilot, navigator, or aircrew of any kind. I didn't want to endure the aeronautical engineering coursework if I couldn't be a pilot, so I switched majors. Psychology, geography, and English were my top three choices, and I ultimately decided on English because I wanted to be a writer. All cadets earn a bachelor of science degree, so I had to take more math, science, and engineering courses than English courses.

I did not have a typical college experience... for a civilian or a cadet. I jumped out of perfectly good airplanes, published an academic paper on Jack Kerouac's On The Road, skinned a rogue bear that attacked our camp during survival training (not part of the curriculum), hitchhiked across half the country, visited Munich, Tokyo, and Timbuktu, was nearly kicked out of the Academy for getting deported from Canada (and an unrelated incident involving a lightning storm three days later), started an underground poetry ring, and owned a party bus with my friends. I somehow graduated in the top third of my class and was selected to be an intelligence officer, much to the surprise of my commanding officer.