Interesting facts about Dave and Michelle Pryor and our aviation careers:
Michelle and Dave met at the United States Air Force Academy during basic training, where they were SCUBA partners and later went on to become SCUBA instructors while at the Academy. They were also partners as survival instructors during the summer between their sophomore and junior years at the Academy.
Michelle earned her jump (parachute) wings while at the Academy. They were married 30 days after graduating from the Academy, and as a wedding present, Dave’s family got them each a chance to go tandem skydiving! They sat next to each other in the same Undergraduate Pilot Training class and were assigned the same instructor for T-37 training. They had the chance to fly formation against each other in the T-37.
Dave went on to fly T-38s and Michelle went on to fly T-1s. Post training, they both returned to Laughlin AFB as First Assignment Instructor Pilots (FAIPs), Dave in the T-38 and Michelle in the T-37. They once again had the opportunity to fly formation against each other in the T-38 (4-ship) with 3 mil-to-mil couples (no one flying together with their spouse) and a solo student in jet #4! Dave also had a complex emergency in the T-38 where he experienced a dual compressor stall.
They spent the next 7 years overseas (Japan, Korea, England). Michelle had a 2 day MedEvac mission in the KC-135 that turned into almost 4 weeks away from home! During those 4 weeks, she had the chance to refuel Dave in the F-15 for the first time over the skies of Nevada during Red Flag.
Michelle also had an interesting KC-135 mission to Africa while stationed in England. After flying all the way to their destination in Africa, the three KC-135 tanker crews were unable to remain at that destination and had to divert to another location, making for an almost 20 hour day!
Dave’s aircraft flown include: T-37, T-38, F-15C, and E-11A
Michelle’s aircraft flown include: T-37, T-1, KC-135, and C-12
They were in the Air Force for 21 years, all of those years as pilots although they spent some time out of the cockpit for staff jobs and professional development. They managed to be stationed together for the majority of the time. We spent about 4 years apart at different assignments over the 21 years.
Their son was born as we both neared 17 years of service in the Air Force. Dave was deployed to Afghanistan flying the E-11 when our son was born and first met him when he was almost 3 months old.
Michelle deployed to Al Udeid AB where she was the Operations Officer for the KC-135 Expeditionary Refueling Squadron. On the day she re-deployed, she had the opportunity to give a tour of the KC-135 to four NFL football players who were visiting the base as part of a morale boosting tour for the troops. Go Browns!
They’ve also owned 2 personal airplanes – a C-182 and an RV-8; Dave flew the C-182 from Alabama to Cozumel, Mexico to compete in an Ironman triathlon. Michelle was also competing in the Ironman triathlon, but chose to fly commercial to the race (from Oklahoma)!
Michelle commanded a T-1 squadron (training) at Vance AFB, OK and later returned to Laughlin AFB, TX to finish her career as the Vice Wing Commander. She learned she had been the first female Vice Wing Commander at Laughlin a year after retiring from the Air Force when she was featured in a “Laughlin’s Firsts” article in the Del Rio Grande magazine.
Dave made the difficult decision to separate from the Air Force after 19 years. He joined the Air Force Reserve and flew T-38s at Laughlin AFB, TX in order to allow our family to be stationed together for their final assignment.
They flew their fini-flights for the Air Force on the same day. Dave led a T-38 formation and Michelle led a T-1 formation. They both came down final approach one formation after the other and taxied back to park at the same time!
Currently, Dave is flying for a legacy airline (although his last flight was in September 2020 but expects to return to the cockpit soon). He made the most of his “time off” by starting his NTD Racing company, putting together a team, and building a Baja truck which the team raced in the Baja 1000 in November, 2020.
Currently, Michelle has stepped into the entrepreneurial realm and recently designed a hiking app for kids called Hiking Bingo. Her mission is to inspire kids to explore the outdoors!