My love of air shows and aviation began at a very early age when I attended the Cleveland National Air Show in 1976. The admiration and respect of the different air show performers I witnessed while growing up inspired me to enter the Navy and obtain my Federal Aviation Administration Private Pilot certificate. After finishing basic training at Naval Station Great Lakes, I completed the Airman Apprentice Training Course ranked one out of 40 students and was meritoriously advanced in the process.
I received orders to Attack Squadron 36 at Naval Air Station Oceana, where I qualified as a Plane Captain on the A-6E Intruder. This required the daily preparation of a 30 million dollar combat aircraft for flight which included refueling the aircraft, ensuring the jet engines and aircraft systems were properly serviced and completing pre-flight and post-flight inspections. During Operation Desert Storm, my squadron flew 578 missions as part of Carrier Air Wing Eight aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (see my pictures from the flight deck here). The "Roadrunners" of Attack Squadron 36 achieved a 97 percent squadron sortie completion rate and expended over 1.2 million pounds of ordnance on Iraqi targets. My final deployment with Attack Squadron 36 was in support of Operation Deny Flight in the Bosnia and Herzegovina region.
Before separating from the Navy, I had the opportunity to work with members of the "Grim Reapers" of Fighter Squadron 101 and the F-14 Tomcat. I was very fortunate - not only did I get to work with some great people, but I was also able to work with two of Grumman's finest aircraft. While aboard Naval Air Station Oceana, I had the great fortune to work with the air show staff in several different capacities. I am a member of several aviation-oriented internet forums and also contribute articles and reviews to multiple publications on a regular basis.