Maj. Cynthia's Open Road

MAJ. CYNTHIA MCKENNA

C-130J Pilot
United States Air Force

“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.”

INTERESTS:

Armed Services Action Sports

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Failure Goals Values Support & Encouragement Hobbies & Pastimes

FOUNDATION:

Helping People

BIOGRAPHY:

  • 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.

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