08:20 AM

Aviation Vocation

Board of Governors Member, Air Force Veteran Now Flies for United Airlines

Sheila Pursglove
Contributing Writer

Fascinated with aviation in boyhood, Brad Lynn built every model airplane he could lay his hands on and dreamed of taking to the skies. He went on to become a Civil Air Patrol cadet, then served 30 years in the U.S. Air Force, became a civilian airline captain and served as a wing commander and region vice commander in CAP before joining CAP’s Board of Governors this year.

“I was bitten by the flying bug early in life and have enjoyed it ever since,” said Lynn. “Civil Air Patrol opened the aviation door (for me), and I’ve been fortunate to serve my country through aviation and have continued a wonderful aviation career as a captain for United Airlines.”

An Eagle Scout, Lynn joined the Alabama Wing’s Tuscaloosa Composite Squadron in 1969. “After talking to friends that were in the squadron, I knew the Civil Air Patrol was an organization I definitely wanted to join,” he recalled.

He vividly remembers his first summer wing encampment, marching around Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama – site of Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters – and learning about the Air Force while taking pride in being a member of his flight.

“At the end of the week, I received a ride in a T-33 Air Force jet — after that, I knew that was what I wanted to do,” Lynn said.


In 1973 he earned the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Award — CAP’s highest cadet honor, earned by less than one-half of 1 percent of all cadets — and was named National Cadet of the Year.

Leadership training and experience in the cadet program have helped many with careers in industry and in the military, he noted. “The leadership training is absolutely outstanding,” Lynn said. “If cadets apply themselves, by the time they are 18 they have done extensive public speaking, conducted many staff meetings, organized complex activities and events and have had the opportunity to lead many large groups of people toward a common goal.”

The University of Alabama graduate was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force, beginning active duty in 1977. A distinguished graduate from Squadron Officer School, he earned a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas. He served on active duty until October 1986, primarily as a KC-135 aircraft commander, and he did a tour at the Pentagon in the Air Staff Training Assignment.

In 1986 he transferred to the Air Force Reserve’s 908th Airlift Wing, holding numerous command and staff positions and serving as vice wing commander from May 1999 until transferring to the Pentagon in 2002. He served a tour in Reserve Operations at the Pentagon and deployed as an air expeditionary commander in the Afghanistan theater in 2004. In 2005 he became mobilization assistant to the director, Plans and Programs, Air Force Material Command.

Lynn retired from the Air Force in 2007 as a colonel with 30 years of military service. His military decorations include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Outstanding Unit Award with Valor and numerous campaign and service medals.


Rejoining Civil Air Patrol’s Alabama Wing that year, he ultimately served as deputy director of cadet programs, director of logistics and readiness, wing vice commander and wing commander. His leadership team re-established an outstanding glider program, earned a “Highly Successful” rating in a compliance inspection and an "Outstanding” rating on the Air Force Operations Evaluation.

Serving as wing commander was one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of his life, Lynn said. “I really enjoyed watching our senior members and cadets excel at every task that was placed before them. The Alabama Wing, like every other wing, has professional volunteers that are truly America’s finest.”

In 2010 he spent several days providing aerial photography in support of Operation Deepwater Horizon after the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. And in September 2014 the wing took part in a search and rescue mission for a missing aircraft near Abbeville, Alabama, where Lynn also served as a flight observer on several sorties with the Mobile and Tuscaloosa composite squadrons. The wing conducted a weeklong search in coordination with local sheriffs and the state Emergency Management Agency. The aircraft was found in the Chattahoochee River with two fatalities.

A recipient of CAP’s Distinguished Service Award, Lynn has served as commandant of cadets for Cadet Officer School and escort officer for the International Air Cadet Exchange.

“Mentoring cadets is one of the most important things senior members do,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to talk to cadets about a career in the Air Force or aviation. I enjoy doing this because they are sincere in seeking advice. I’m proud to pass on anything that could help them with their future.”

He has also served as an instructor and seminar leader at the Southeast Region and national staff colleges.

“Most of our volunteers have to take their annual vacation to attend these courses,” Lynn said. “Both are vital to developing future leaders. Being a member of staff allows me to give back and make a contribution to CAP’s future.”

After serving as vice commander for the Southeast Region, Lynn joined the Board of Governors in May. “I enjoy being able to contribute to Civil Air Patrol at this level, so that I can give back to the organization that has done so much for me,” he said.

A captain with United Airlines, Lynn also has served as a pilot instructor and check airman. He holds type ratings in the Boeing 707, 747-400, 757, 767 and 777 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 and has accumulated over 20,000 flight hours. His routes mostly take him to and from Europe and South America and this summer to Alaska.

“I enjoy being able to see the world and enjoy the great destinations,” he said.

Col. William Bass was Lynn’s vice commander for Alabama Wing. “Brad Lynn is the epitome of a successful career in aviation, the military, CAP or any other by any measure,” Bass said. “He is a visionary seeking the best outcomes of plans and programs while motivating people to achieve them.

While he seeks input from his team and prefers a consensus if possible, he has, and is, fully capable of making tough decisions required of successful leaders. “One quickly recognizes leadership. Brad is in that rare small group of ‘the best of the best.’"


To support Civil Air Patrol cadets and their academic and flight goals, consider donating to Cadet Scholarships. 

If you are interested in setting up a designated CAP cadet scholarship in your state or region, contact CAP's Development Office.