Electronics System Division (ESD)
Hanscom Air Force Base, MA - 1976 - 1979

The Air Force has a program called "rated supplement." The official position is that it is to enhance an officer's potential by giving him career-broadening opportunities. Many others have the position that it is a place to hide pilots in times of surplus. Rather than having a position chosen for me, I chose one that would be of value to me.

When I walked into the door at ESD, they asked me a couple of questions: "Are you an electrical engineer, and do you know anything about C-141's." I answered "yes" to both questions, and was immediately made the project manager in charge of the acquisition of $7.5 M worth of avionics and associated ground-based equipment. I was 27 years old, and never used my electrical engineering degree!

To say it was a baptism of fire would be putting it mildly. I learned a lot and I learned it fast. At one point, I think I was one of two people (the other being the person who described it to me) who understood how the Air Force / DOD / Federal Budget cycle worked. This is where I first got an introduction to what a GANTT chart was, and had to plan and project.

I figured if I was doing it, I might as well learn about it, so I used my GI Bill to take night courses and got my Masters of Science in Engineering Management. It was my first step towards thinking that there was more to life than flying airplanes.

After I spent three years flying an LSD-6D (large steel desk - six drawer), the Air Force discovered that they didn't have a pilot surplus after all, and I was pulled back into the cockpit.

The first couple of offers were C-141's to McGuire AFB in New Jersey. Nice state: wrong plane. I tried to get my old FAC job back, but they wouldn't hear of it. So they countered with a C-5 to Dover AFB. They were going in the wrong direction as to the size of the aircraft. I countered by offering to fly C-130s. They told me I could go to Guam, the Philippines, Okinawa, or Japan. I told them if they sent me to Guam, I'd turn in my wings.

For more information about the United States Air Force Electronic Systems Division, click here.