Memories of...Academics

Bob Ryan

It was my misfortune to have endured an unfortunate tirade from a USAFA Aerodynamics Instructor. In 1974, after a presentation on F15 stalls based on data we collected in the USAFA wind tunnel, the good captain remarked to me that I would receive a failing mark and he would ensure that I did not graduate with an engineering degree. In 1988, while serving as Branch Chief of AF Systems Command Engineering Officer assignments and after having graduated from USAFA with a BSAE, from the USAF Test Pilot School FTE Course and earning an MSAE from AFIT, I ran across a Lt. Col. who was witness to the 1974 incident as a captain. The Lt. Col. (with an engineering PhD) had been recently assigned to a chief position in one of the labs in Albuquerque. He called me about a pending fill assignment. He commented about the inappropriateness of the captain's remarks in 1974 to which I was pleased to report my success and thanked him for his support of my USAFA Graduation.

All this to point out that there are "good guys" and "bad guys" and when one individual oversteps reasonable bounds of authority, it takes fortitude and action to overcome such inappropriate behavior.

I get to continue applying that lesson as I start my 31st year in the aerospace business working on a Sub-Orbital Reusable Vehicle and occasionally challenging inappropriate attacks on junior engineers. It is a comfort to me knowing that there are like-minded members in the USAF and in retirement who watch out for the "little guy". No telling how far that "little guy" will go with a supportive push at the right time.


From John Retelle (USAFA 67, an Aero Instructor when we were there): Stan Siefke and Jon Turner won the two aero prizes, so they were easy to remember. There was one other guy in your class . . . an aero major. He got the finals schedule all mixed up, and went to the golf course by mistake during my final exam. I called over to his squadron, and his AOC contacted him. He came running in, over an hour late in a totally panicked state. He wrote non-stop for the remaining time, and nearly collapsed afterwards. Would you believe he got the highest grade on the exam, by a huge margin? He moved his overall grade from a B to an A. He was magnificent.


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