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.


By Roadtrip Nation

Maj. Cynthia McKenna


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.


C-130J Pilot

I am an Air Force pilot and weapons officer.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Armed Services
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.

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.


The Noise I Shed

From Myself:

"This is too stressful."

Challenges I Overcame

Family Stress

Interviewed By

Room to Grow

Room to Grow

Texas high schoolers choose their education focus