Maj. Cynthia McKenna

Maj. Cynthia McKenna

C-130J Pilot


United States Air Force

Abilene, TX USA


You will face challenges, but you’ll learn to lean on the people around you and you’ll learn to lean on yourself. Figure out what it is that makes you strong on the inside.

Videos

Videos

By Roadtrip Nation

Maj. Cynthia McKenna

Highlight
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00:56
Maj. Cynthia McKenna HighlightInterview Highlight
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06:14
InterviewThe Interview
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00:58
Being Away From Family For WorkWeb Exclusive
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02:24
Day In The Life Of An Air Force PilotWeb Exclusive
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01:59
Getting Into The Air ForceWeb Exclusive
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What I Liked As A StudentWeb Exclusive
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Focus On The Task At HandWeb Exclusive
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Most Impactful Moment On The JobWeb Exclusive
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00:45
Don't Look At Failure As FailureInterview Excerpt
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01:33
I Wanted To Help PeopleInterview Excerpt
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Milestones

Milestones

My road in life has been direct.
Grew up in a military family—her father was a test pilot, so she grew up loving airplanes.
In high school, she wanted to gain some volunteer experience, so she joined the Cadet Program of the Civil Air Patrol.
While in the Civil Air Patrol, she heard about the Air Force Academy and immediately knew that was the college she wanted to go to.
Due to the strict admissions process, it took her whole junior year to apply to the Academy and then an additional 18 months of interviews before she got in.
Attended the Air Force Academy and was selected to go to flight school to become a pilot.
Upon graduating and joining the Air Force, she initially wanted to fly the special operations helicopters behind enemy lines—this wasn’t open to women, so she started flying the C-130 cargo planes.
Her missions typically include transporting people and cargo in and out of hard to access areas and providing the support they need on the ground.
Says her favorite part of being in the military is the fact that it is a meritocracy, you are judged based on how well you do your job and nothing else.
Education

Education

highschool
High School
undergrad
Bachelor
American/US Law/Legal Studies/Jurisprudence
United States Air Force Academy
Career

Career

C-130J Pilot

I am an Air Force pilot and weapons officer.

Career Roadmap

Roadmap
My work combines:
My work combines:
Armed Services
Armed Services
Action Sports
Action Sports
Helping People
Helping People

Day to Day

My squadron currently gets deployed on missions all over the world, so I don't really have a typical day. We could do air drops, air medical evacuations, hurricane relief, human remains missions for fallen soldiers, cargo transport, humanitarian relief, and much more. Each mission comes with its own requirements and challenges.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

You have to have grit. No matter what branch of the military you join, you are going to experience hard times and you have to be able to stick it out. Don't be afraid to lean on the people around you for support. Take criticism to heart and use that to learn from your mistakes and better yourself.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for high school students

If you have ambitions of going to a military college, start preparing early because it takes a long time to go through the admissions process. Join ROTC or do some volunteering with a military-based organization. This will get you valuable experience and also inform you as to whether the military is a career path you would be interested in pursuing.

Hurdles

Hurdles

The Noise I Shed

From Myself:

"This is too stressful."

The military is a stressful job, no matter what branch you are in, no matter what job you do. I had to learn to focus on my tasks at hand and lean on the people around me for support if needed. Vent all of those frustrations out so that you can go back to work.

Challenges I Overcame

Military Life
Military Life

Both my husband and I are in the military and we have a young baby. We can sometimes spend long stretches of time away from one another which is really difficult.