When Capt. David was a child, his father would take him out to
the flightline at Canon Air Force Base, New Mexico and sit him in
the cockpit of an F-111 Aardvark.
Looking up at his dad,
David would say, “One day, I’m going to be a pilot.”
forward a couple of decades later: “I guess I kept my word,” he
said, standing in the 79th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Bagram
Airfield, Afghanistan where he serves as an F-16 Fighting Falcon
January 13, 2017 - U.S. Air Force Capt. David, 79th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron pilot, and
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel Lasal, 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance
Squadron dedicated crew chief, salute one another before a night
mission at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. David
enlisted in the Air Force in 2004 as an F-16 Fighting Falcon
avionics specialist and now flies the same airframe he used to be a
maintainer for. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Katherine Spessa)
The road has been a long one for David, who first
enlisted in the Air Force in 2004. Following in his father’s
footsteps, he became an F-16 avionics specialist.
“It’s always been my dream to be a pilot, it’s all I’ve ever
wanted to do,” David said. “I just took a different route
than most people do.”
That route included going to
school while working as a maintainer, through a deployment
to Balad Airfield, Iraq and temporary duties where he was
often gone for three weeks out of every month.
have the best wife in the world,” he said. “She was stubborn
for me when I didn’t want to do it, she was always there
pushing me, telling me that I could, telling me it’s going
to be worth it. ‘All the hard work, the sweat the tears, one
day it will all pay off and you’re going to be where you
want to be.’”
David achieved his goal when he was
accepted for officer training school and was subsequently
selected for pilot training and the F-16 slot. He now flies
the same airframe he was once a maintainer for.
“There’s always a giant support system behind anyone who
gets to this point,” David said. He gives the credit to his
wife, children, supervisors throughout his Air Force career,
along with a little timing, luck and a lot of hard work.
After years of training, David was sent to his first
operational assignment as a pilot, where he headed back out
to the flightline as a pilot rather than a maintainer.
“Having that maintenance and operations background
provides that extra piece to make the cogs fit a little bit
better,” said David. “They’re not really all that different,
to be honest. We all want the same thing, we all want to do
the same thing, we’re all fighting in the same direction.”
The skills Capt. David learned as a maintainer give him
increased credibility as a pilot.
knowledge of the airplane, is beyond some of our more
seasoned pilots because he’s had his hands in some places we
don’t even know exist inside an F-16,” said Maj. Joseph ,
79th EFS director of operations.
This deployment to
Bagram will also be David’s first as a pilot.
always wanted to be the tip-of-the-spear kind of guy, the
last link in the chain before taking care of bad guys,” he
said. “The most rewarding part has been coming out here and
When he’s not deployed, David
follows in his father’s footsteps again, bringing his
children to the flightline at Shaw Air Force Base, South
“Seeing that pure joy and pride in their
faces when I have them come out to the jet and I taxi up and
hop out…. There is no better feeling in the world, then
seeing my kids’ faces light up,” David said.
generation of David’s family has served in the military
since the Civil War. He is now the first member of his
family to commission.
“I’ll probably be in the Air
Force until they tell me to stop coming to work, whether I’m
flying jets or not. It’s where I want to be,” David said.
By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Katherine Spessa
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