Major Matthew H. Briggs
Since earning my B.S. in Physics from the University of Alabama in 1997 I have committed the last 10 years as a pilot in the USAF. I began my post-training AF career at Little Rock AFB, AR as a co-pilot and then aircraft commander in the C-130 Hercules. I followed that assignment with a three year tour to Ramstein AB, Germany as an instructor pilot in the C-130. During my time as a C-130 pilot I deployed numerous times to the Middle East and eastern Europe in support of Operations Joint Forge, Joint Guardian, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze.
During my overseas tour I applied and was accepted to the U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance community at Beale AFB, CA. My missions consist of 1-hour pre-breathing of 100% oxygen in a full-pressure suit (same ones worn by NASA Astronauts) followed by 10-12 hour missions above 70,000 feet—"Alone, Unarmed, and Unafraid". Each day the U-2 "Dragonlady" proves to be the most challenging aircraft to fly and employ.
I work outside the "traditional" physics community, but my academic background certainly helped me attain my goals.
This article first appeared in the Spring 2008 issue of Radiations Magazine.