Forget The Moon, Aim For The Stars
by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Ruben Garibay
“Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you
will land among the stars,” said Major Adah “Addie” Gallinatti,
MC-130J instructor pilot 415th Special Operations Squadron at
Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
Shoot for the stars is a
common phrase almost every person has heard at some point in their
lifetime. How many of them really attempt to shoot for the stars?
Addie uses the phrase as she shares her story of her journey to
reach for the stars.
March 21, 2023 - U.S. Air Force Major Adah Gallinatti,
an instructor pilot 415th Special Operations Squadron, stands in front of
a MC-130J Commando II multi-mission combat transport/special operations tanker at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. (Image
created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Tallon Bratton.)
Born and raised in Chicago, Addie grew up
in a home like most Americans with social and economic challenges.
Consistently moving back and forth between family members is a
memory she vividly remembers and reflects upon.
grade, she had moved from Chicago to Austin, Texas where she spent a
great portion of her life. She recalls the many moves that occurred
within her adolescent years. Eventually by her senior year in high
school, Addie returned to Austin where she was reunited with her
It was here in Austin where she
chose to pursue her childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut.
“I would see images and interviews of astronauts who shared
their experience in space stations and space capsules,”
Addie mentioned. “This really intrigued me and inspired me to want
to experience this myself.”
With this goal in mind and with
plenty of research, she discovered that by becoming a pilot she
would be on track of “getting away from this world.” Naturally, the
United States Air Force came into play, and this is where a
determined Addie embarked on her journey of becoming an astronaut.
When applying to the United States Air Force Academy,
Addie found herself in an unusual predicament. After years of moving
around from place to place, the difficulty for her to acquire her
transcripts from school was challenging. Let alone, having to also
obtain a recommendation letter from a United States representative
or senator. These experiences were just the tip of the iceberg of
what it would take for her to accomplish her dream.
Addie decided to major in astronautical engineering and after her
rigorous recruitment process for acceptance into the Air Force
academy, her next challenge was not too far away.
never came naturally to me,” Addie said reluctantly. “At one point
in the academy, I had a 1.8 GPA for the semester. I did not come all
this way just to fail and not graduate! I needed to push through.”
After this initial academic challenge, Addie was put on academic
probation as well as other restrictions to her academy life. She
would go on to reprioritize her extracurricular activities and
rededicated her time to her academics.
“In the summer, I
forfeited three weeks’ worth of leave to take two summer courses,”
Addie remarked. “This was to help me get ahead in my senior year of
After graduating the Air Force Academy,
Addie attended pilot training school in 2015. Her class consisted of
16 people, 2 of which were females. Later throughout the year the
other female in the class departed to train elsewhere, leaving
Addie as the only female pilot in her class.
There were two
important things that Addie learned in pilot training school: family
balance and unspoken barriers.
While in training, Addie took
on the increasingly difficult challenge of adopting her younger
brother. Juggling her training and legal efforts with the assistance
of her instructors, she obtained guardianship of her younger
brother. Addie managed to persevere through these challenges that
were thrown her way.
“My classmate who was a guardsman
brought in his daughter to class one day,” Addie recalls. “She
looked at me and said aloud, ‘Dad! You didn’t tell me there were
lady pilots.’ At that moment, I didn’t realize how big that barrier
was,” says Addie. “When I think about it today, I realize the impact
of that encounter. Now that little girl can look at the aircraft and
believe she can become a pilot one day.”
With all her
successes, it appears that the future looks bright for Addie. With
aspirations of becoming an astronaut still one of her dreams, she
currently focuses on the next goal in her career which is to become
a part of the school staff and later hopefully becoming part of the
Although faced with many adversities,
Addie continues to break barriers. As a MC-130J instructor pilot at
Kirtland, she continues to inspire future generations.
idea of being a potential role model to younger girls is humbling,”
Addie states. “It makes me want to be the best I can be and ensure
my mission is completed from all angles. Whether that be completing
the mission itself or inspiring the next generation of Airmen. I may
not be an astronaut right now, but I found other passions within my
career field that I can chase after.”
“Shoot for the moon and
if you miss, you will land among the stars” is something Addie heard
when she was younger and has become a mantra for her to live by.
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