Military Aviation Careers
There are as many different reasons to choose a military aviation career as there are people in the military. Richard “Moose Haas, Lt. Col. (retired) of the U.S. Air Force, said he joined up because he was “looking for something exciting to do, and wanted to do my part to defend the country.”
Haas was an F-15E Weapon Systems Officer, which he described as “basically a co-pilot with the responsibility to get the jet into position to drop bombs or shoot missiles, and then ensure they hit the intended targets.”
Mark Rambis, also retired from the Air Force, said he joined for different reasons. “I didn’t really desire to attend college upon my graduation from high school and was really looking for an escape from Anderson, IN.”
Although they came into the service for different reasons, both Haas and Rambis found careers in aviation, and the course of their lives changed dramatically. Because of the experience, they have traveled all over the world and lived in many different parts of the U.S.
Noting that it is hard to guess just what his life would have been like without the Air Force, Rambis said, “I would not have met the mother of my beautiful daughters, I most likely would not have had to occasion to travel the world, I would not have been intimately involved with airplanes that I love, and would not have gained the professional skills that Delta Air Lines and now Boeing would desire from an employee.”
Members of the armed forces often cite skill building and education as major benefits of their experience. Major Jackie L. Cox (USAF retired), said he was often amazed at the way education and experience came together in unexpected ways. He was an electrical engineer who worked on airplane weapons systems, and he also enjoyed working with radio-controlled aircraft at home. Then one day, the two seemingly unrelated skills merged into one when the Air Force began developing remote-controlled weapons systems, and he was able to work on the project. “It was amazing. I got to put together two of my favorite things: things that fly, and things that blow up.”
Aside from the knowledge gained, Haas stressed the importance of the camaraderie he experienced. Those friendships were fun at the time, but they also served another valuable purpose later in life: networking for post-service careers.
Asked if he would recommend the Air Force to someone considering it today, Haas said, “Do it. You get to fly a $70m jet, act like a teenager, and blow stuff up – why wouldn’t you want that lifestyle? Oh yeah, the pay’s not bad either.”