Interview of UCM Aviation Alumni, Dan Greenwood
Joshua A. Davis
University of Central Missouri
03 November, 2014
You will be assigned an alumnus for UCM Aviation to interview. The paper must be 5 pages exclusive of the title page or citation page. Use one-inch margins, “Times New Roman” font, 12 pt. This is an oral presentation of you reflections, observations from your interview. What did you gain? Prepare as if presenting to the University Central Missouri President. 5-7 minutes total length. If you are having trouble present 3 points of advice/perspective you gained from this interview.
Dan Greenwood is the aviator that I was assigned to interview. Dan is a University Central Missouri (UCM) Alumni. Mr. Greenwood also served in the Air Force as a pilot and a mechanic and fought in Operation Desert Storm. Currently Mr. Greenwood fly’s commercially out of Kansas City and teaches online classes for UCM. As you can well guess Mr. Greenwood has accomplished great things in his career. This interview will outline some of the great experiences and life lessons that Dan has been gracious enough to share with us. Mr. Greenwood and I have decided to communicate via e-mail for this assignment, as because of his busy schedule this was the best way to interview. Format for this interview will be in a question and answer style. Dan Greenwood is an amazing and experienced aviator if I have half the success he has endured, I will live a good life. It has been a pleasure working with Mr. Greenwood.
Where are you from and, how was your upbringing?
I was born in Cleveland Ohio and moved to Tulsa OK when I was 15. My dad was a mechanic for American Airlines, that’s where I found my love for aviation. I have 2 sisters and 4 brothers and had a pretty routine upbringing.
What first interested you into aviation, when, where and in what aircraft was your first flight?
When I was 8 years old my dad took me on my first flight, it was on a DC-10 from Cleveland to the brand new Dallas Ft Worth airport, which was in 1971.
What did you study at UCM?
I joined the Air Force right out of high school when I was 17. My first assignment was to Whiteman AFB where I was a HH-1H Iroquois mechanic. While at Whiteman I attended then
CMSU and finished a degree in Aerospace Technology. I really enjoyed my time at CMSU and was VP of Alpha Eta Rho. I made some great connections that I still maintain today.
Who was the most influential person in your life, and why?
I had many influential people in my life, however the most was my dad, he instilled a passion in me for life and flying that continues today.
What did you do after graduation from UCM?
After graduation from CMSU I attended Officer Training School for the AF and then flight school. I was selected to fly the A-10 which I did for three years including desert storm in 1991. I have also flown the T-38 and T-37 as an instructor in the Air Force. I did a total of 28 years active and reserve time. I have also flown 737’s for Continental Airlines, however not enjoying the commute I was offered and accepted a job in KC flying a Global Express and Challenger 605. I have been here for 8 ½ years so far and still love the job. I resigned my seniority from CAL. Believing I have something to offer I went back to UCM several years ago and finished my Masters in Aviation Safety, since then I have been teaching the Corporate Aviation on-line and transport/FMS class at UCM.
In the transition from your first flight in the DC-10 until you enlisted in the AF. Did you earn any certificates? Or even continue to dabble in aviation?
After my first flight in a DC-10 I went to work with my dad a few times and attended every airshow I could. Other than this I did not complete any flight training.
Being an airman that also went to school did you find that the AF worked with you to accommodate education? How long did it take you to finish your degree in Aerospace Tech.?
The AF did work with me very well to accomplish my degree. They were very supportive and having been stationed at Whiteman it made it very easy to attend UCM. I enlisted in the AF in June of 1981 and graduated with my BS in Aerospace Technology in May 1987. It took almost 6 years.
I definitely want to hear more about your dad he sounds like an interesting guy. Did he serve? What lead him to work for the airlines as a mechanic? Was he a college grad? What kind of things did your dad do to instill passion into your life?
My Dad did serve in the AF as a B-25 mechanic; his entire 4 years was served at Vance AFB in Enid OK. It was nostalgic for me to be assigned there as an instructor. After his time in the AF he attended A&P school in Pennsylvania, American Airlines hired his entire class and he remained with them for 36 years. He never did attend college; I was the first in my family to complete a degree. He and my mom recently moved to Kearney to live near us as they get older. I have an old prop my dad got when he was in A&P School that he refinished for me, it’s pretty nice.
As the VP of Alpha Eta Rho what kind of projects did you organize for the school?
As The VP for AHP we organized several parties a year and did a lot around homecoming. We did build a float one year that resembled the Wright flyer, which was fun. We did several moneymaking events including concessions at KC Royals and Comets games.
You talk of connections you still have today. Are these people in the aviation industry? What kind of success have you see from UCM Grads?
I have several contacts from my days at UCM, there are at least 5 corporate pilots that I know, several who have joined the military as pilots. I have a good friend who works as an accident investigator in Scottsdale AZ, he was my best man at my wedding. One of the
Corporate pilots I actually worked for a short period of time at Aquila in Kansas City flying a King air.
What was a good lesson learned while flying A-10s in Desert Storm?
When I was flying in Desert Storm the biggest lesson I learned was our training well prepared me for the missions I would encounter. Sometimes you’re not sure what to expect also known as fear of the unknown. When I began flying missions over Kuwait and Iraq there was concern that what I was doing would not be effective or I would get shot down. What I truly realized was the training we received when followed allowed us to control the skies. Our training was second to none and we were prepared with the best training and best equipment of any nation.
What was a lesson learned while you attend UCM?
While at UCM the greatest lesson I learned was to take my studies seriously and make connections that would last a lifetime. I initially started out a little slow with my general education classes. Eventually I picked up the pace and improved my GPA. A little too much time on Pine Street. Many of the connections I made while attending CMSU have served me well during my years in Aviation and I have been able to refer back to them when needed for advice.
Can you give an overview on your approach to becoming a commercial aviator is Kansas City?
If you want to fly private there are some jobs available, these are part 91 jobs that have less restrictions than commercial or part 121/135 jobs. Commercial jobs are few and far between in KC, you would have to commute for most of these jobs. Knocking on doors in the KC area is the best way to get your foot in the door, be willing to do anything from sweeping the hangar floor to washing and fueling airplanes. Eventually someone may let you work your way up the
ladder and fly as an F/O in a small turboprop. From here you can build time and eventually graduate to bigger and more powerful aircraft.
What advice would you give someone preparing for the Regional world?
If I knew someone who wanted to go to the regional airlines I would recommend they attend a school like UCM and attain all their ratings. From here I would look for a flight instruction job or possibly flying freight for someone. You need to log PIC time in order to get the requirements for the ATP. I believe most regional airlines will be hiring well into the future and at very low minimums, hence you would get a job fairly quickly and hopefully transition to the majors within 5-10 years.
What are some hurdles you see for future aviators in the commercial world?
The biggest hurdles I see for future aviators are the technical advances in aircraft. I read the other day that Saint Louis University is doing a study on the advances in technology and the hazards it’s creating. We used to grow up flying the steam gauges and learned basic stick and rudder skills; I don’t believe that is the case as much anymore. My understanding is at UCM you can get your license without ever flying around dial aircraft, everything is electronic and I don’t believe this prepares a pilot well for the future. An example would be the Asiana crash in SFO last year, the pilot clicked off the auto-throttles and didn’t know it, and he was unable to recognize the sink rate until it was too late to recover. This type of flying is directly related to their training; everything he did previous was in an electronic format and all he understood was automation. Had the pilot clicked off everything and just flew the aircraft to the runway, everything would have been fine.
Conclusion Interviewing Dan Greenwood was a great experience for me as a young aviator. It is important and motivating to see through the life of someone else the possible outcomes that lie ahead if you stick with aviation. Mr. Greenwood has had amazing experiences in everything from flying some of the Military’s finest aircraft in Operation Desert Storm to captaining some of the finest aircraft in the civilian sector. I share a lot of the same interest and experiences as Mr. Greenwood, both of us having served overseas. Additionally, I hope to work in the airlines someday and picking Dan’s mind helped me understand exactly what I am getting myself into. Dan Greenwood is an experienced and well-rounded individual. If I have half the career in aviation that he has had I will consider myself a successful aviator. I feel privileged to know Mr. Greenwood and have enjoyed this experience of learning a little about his life.
Greenwood, D. (2014). Interview of UCM Aviation Alumni, Dan Greenwood. (J. Davis, Interviewer)