BRADLEY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, East Granby, Conn. --
It was cooler that day in October, 2004 at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. And on that day, Air Force pilot Chris Thiesing was scheduled for his first sortie in a T-37 training plane after finishing four weeks of academics. After taxiing the airplane to the runway, he and his instructor armed their ejection seats and soon he took off and started to fly the plane.
That was when the instructor asked him if he wanted to do anything special.
"I asked if we could fly upside down. She said, 'do what you want to do.' I then did the first aileron roll, of what would be many in the next couple months," said Capt. Chris "NASA" Thiesing, standardization and evaluation liaison and C-21 pilot for the 118th Airlift Squadron here.
Flying an airplane upside down was something he had never done before but always dreamed of doing.
Does that sound like something you would like to do?
"I always wanted to fly, I didn't know if I could," said Thiesing.
Thiesing joined the 103rd Airlift Wing as a traditional guardsman and an intelligence specialist while going to school at the University of Connecticut--a story that may sound familiar?
After graduating, Thiesing seized the opportunity to become a pilot.
"A lot of folks don't know that being a traditional guardsman, if you meet the eligibility requirements, you're going to get an interview," said Thiesing.
"There were more than 100 folks that applied for that pilot position [that Thiesing filled]," he said.
Bottom line was, they were only going to interview 10 to 15 people. Already being in the unit gave him a huge advantage, said Thiesing.
The advantages to pulling a new pilot from the guardsmen already here are: one, they are dedicated and, two, we are able to see what they have produced and what type of person they are, Thiesing said.
On the other hand, recruiting from outside the base can bring in people with new ideas or a new way of looking at things, which is good, he said.
Either way, the 118th Airlift Squadron is looking for that dedicated, hard-charging, self-starting, well-rounded individual. So if you are enlisted or an officer, part of the 103rd family or from another base and wish to fly the new C-27J Spartan scheduled to arrive in 2013, then according to Capt. Thiesing, the best thing to do is to talk to him or one of the other pilots at Building 18.
"It helps to talk to us, because we can point you in the right direction," said Thiesing.
If you think life may be leading you into the cockpit of a C-27J Spartan, then why not inquire about starting a career as a 118th Airlift Squadron pilot?
For more information or questions, contact Capt. Chris Thiesing at
or DSN 220-2347/Commercial 860-292-2347.