It’s summer in the 1970s. A young boy speeds his bicycle next to the flight line at Beale Air Force Base, California, tires whirring against sun-baked concrete. He’s on his way to see his father, who works in the maintenance shop as an enlisted SR-71 jet-engine mechanic. The Blackbird aircraft fascinates him; everything about it, from the way it looks to the science behind its flight, makes him imagine working with planes for the rest of his life.
The boy’s name is Jay D. Miller, and though he doesn’t know it yet, he will later become an Air Force colonel and vice commander of the 911th Airlift Wing. The opportunity to observe his father at work shaped how Miller imagined his life would become, and that diverse experience has given him a unique outlook on leadership in the Air Force.