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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."


Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Tom Hill

Friday's Fabulous Flyer

Tom Hill "Sulu"

Many of you will recognize the name Tom Hill. He is an avid reader and writes the most incredible comments... inspiring and supporting our future aviators. He is also an articulate and talented writer who has made my life easy by sharing his story first person. 

Please meet an incredible man:

Hi all, I'm Tom Hill. 

Some of my friends from my military aviation days call me Sulu. I pretty much respond to anything, so call me what you want. I corresponded with Karlene a while ago about a desire I have to help anyone interested in the flight test business. I have almost 30 years of military aviation experience of which 20 were spent doing flight test. I thought up an idea years ago: "With all my specialized experience, how can I contribute to anyone interested, especially our young dreamers?" Not having a real forum to work this idea, it sat idle for years. Until now.


I discovered Karlene's blog accidentally. Like lots of things on the web, you just discover things, sometimes by simply connecting to one link, then another, then another. I think that's how I found Karlene's wonderful site.

Not knowing what else to do I sent Karlene a little (okay, it was 3,500 words long) missive on my aviation background. Between naps on a Far East trip she sent a little encouraging note back saying, "Wow, that's long!" (I paraphrase, since she's too sweet to say it quite that way.) She also said, "I have an idea." Her idea was maybe we can do a long term project where I could write a few articles about key factors/events that allowed me to succeed in my career field. I said, "Sure. I'm game." We'll see where it goes.



Without getting too deep let me give you a little about me: I am a US Air Force experimental test pilot. I am retired from the military and I am now a government employee, still flying as a test pilot here in Southern New Mexico, at Holloman AFB. Aviation has always been a part of my life since my dad was a USAF navigator and aerospace engineer. 

I started my career as a Weapon System Officer (WSO) in the F-4, eventually going to pilot training and flying the F-15. Eventually, I went to the USAF Test Pilot School. I've flown 60+ different types of aircraft, varying from the PT-17 Steerman to F-18's. I even have time in the B-1 and C-141. By any measure, it's been a great run and I feel incredibly blessed.


Today, I fly highly modified T-38's and King Air's doing really cool stuff. For example, anyone know how to fly a Beech 1900--i.e. C-12J--from the continental US to Hawaii? It's not direct from the West Coast. I'll tell you that story later. Even though these aircraft are not as high performing, or even as sexy as others I've flown, it's a dream job.

The interesting thing is I don't think I could duplicate the path to get where I am just now if I started over. The circumstances of my career are just so surprising and variable that I wouldn't ever recommend making the same choices I made. Still, thinking back to what allowed me to move forward, I think it comes down to this observation: I was always prepared to take opportunities as they materialized. We'll get into this more down the road.




Dependent upon how Karlene wants to do this, I'll get to write more words on my experiences. There's the story about me almost passing out during simulator checkride because of self-induced stress, and how I flew my first solo ever in a twin engine jet trainer. (Most folks fly their first solo in a single engine prop plane.) There’s even my last flight in an F-15 happening to be the most photographed of my 3,000+ sorties. I have lots of stories, if you couldn't tell.

I look forward to writing for you all. If you have any comments, please write them here. It'll be fun.
Cheers Tom

Tom, Thank you for joining us today. There is one statement about your life that resonates with my life. Many would have thought I had written it...

"The circumstances of my career are just so surprising and variable that I wouldn't ever recommend making the same choices I made. Still, thinking back to what allowed me to move forward, I think it comes down to this observation: I was always prepared to take opportunities as they materialized."
 
I want hear all Tom's stories. How about you? 

I'm envisioning one day a week we could dedicate to Tom Hill stories. What do you think?

T.H.ursdays with Tom Hill

And if You have an Aviation Adventure...  
email it to me at Karlene.Petitt@Gmail.com  

Enjoy the Journey!
OXO Karlene 

18 comments:

  1. yes, please! bring them on :)

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    1. I agree! And if you have any stories or know any... send them to me.

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  2. T.H.ursdays with Tom Hill is something I look forward too! After so many years in the aviation field I am sure you, Tom, have many stories to tell. I can't wait to read them.

    I think what you're saying about grabbing the opportunities as they rise is something that is very important. In the end, we are licensed pilots looking for a job. We all have the same licenses, circumstances will decide if you get to talk to that one person who will lead you to another one, and then maybe a job offer down the road.

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    1. Cecilie, sometimes you have to make the opportunities too, or take the risk. When I had the chance to go to Evergreen, I made all the reasons why I shouldn't. But my husband said, "Opportunities don't come along like this but once in a lifetime. If you want to be a pilot, you have to do this. We'll figure it out." He was right!

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  3. I think Tom Hill T.H.ursdays is a terrific idea!! A great story about a great aviator and more to come...

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    1. Me too! We need stories. There are so many out there.

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  4. I can't wait for Thursday's now.

    It me a long time to figure out what Tom (and others) have said: take and pursue multiple opportunities. This will be required reading for my boys.
    I just love this site.

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    1. Thank you so much! What a great comment. Yes, tell those boys to take the opportunities. They are gifts. We can accept, or say no thank you. But the reality is, if we don't walk through the doors when they open, because of perceived challenges, then we have just given up an opportunity. Thanks for your comment.

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  5. T.H.ursdays will be a special treat.

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    1. They will be. Now we need to get lot's of stories!

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  6. If that was just a samploe of things to come - I think T.H.ursdays will be awesome!! He is the sort of person that I'd love to sit down with an talk for hours and hours about flying - and - then photography all the planes! LOL But - I will sure enjoy reading the adventures here!!

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    1. Mark, You and me both! Now we can. Thanks so much for your comment.

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  7. I always love story time. Sign me up.

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    1. Me too! Hangar flying at its best! Thanks for your comment.

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  8. Hi all. Thank you for all the enthusiastic responses. Really, I'm taken aback. I hope I can give a little of my lessons learned to anyone willing to learn. Even though I have a tremendous variety of experiences I certainly don't know everything. There's always an opportunity to learn as what happened this morning when flying as a passenger on one of our aircraft this morning. So, if you have questions or suggestions, please post them. They're always welcome.

    Cheers

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    1. Thank you so much Tom. We kind of backed you into the hill. :) Whatever stories you can come up with, I know we would all love to hear them. We all learn from one another and from each others lessons. Everyone's questions and comments is food for all of us. Thanks Tom!

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  9. Here is an idea. Tell about how you got your call sign "Sulu." And for fun tell about your friends and where their call sign came from.

    Tell about your buddies, what a typical day is like, talk about working with the nerds and of course we want to know about ET!

    As a West Virginian, if you have a Chuck Yeager story. That would be fun too, especially if you know of one where he was kind, nice and outgoing!

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    1. Excellent ideas!

      And... I want to hear the stories of his life path we're not supposed to follow. And how they turned into opportunities too.

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