Col Randel “Laz” Gordon is commander of the Arnold Engineering Development Complex, headquartered at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. The Complex employs more than 3,000 people and comprises more than 68 aerospace test facilities across eight states. With facilities at Arnold Air Force Base in middle Tennessee, with operating locations at Ames Research Center, Mountain View and Edwards AFB, California; Peterson AFB, Colorado; Eglin AFB, Florida; the Federal Research Center at White Oak, Maryland; Holloman AFB, Kirtland AFB, and White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico; Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and Hill AFB, Utah, AEDC offers a suite of test capabilities to simulate speed, temperature, pressure and other parameters over a wide range to meet the needs of aerospace system developers. The test facilities simulate flight from subsonic to hypersonic speeds at altitudes from sea level to space.
Col Gordon was born in Poughkeepsie, New York and received his commission in 1998 from the United States Air Force Academy. Prior to this assignment, he was the initial cadre director for the Secretary of the Air Force’s Artificial Intelligence Accelerator with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He also served as initial cadre for the Secretary of the Air Force’s AFWERX technology innovation team with private sector business and academia. Col Gordon is a Presidential Fellow, Harvard Business School Alumnus, Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) Fellow, MIT Fellow, and holds a doctorate from the US Air Force’s School of Advanced Air and Space Studies.
He served the F-22 Combined Test Force as its commander and has additional flight test pilot experience in the F-15C/E, A-10A/C, F-16A/C, Bombardier BD-700 Global Express business jet, and 70 other military and civilian aircraft. His most recent assignment was as the 412th Test Wing Vice Commander.
- 1998 Bachelor of Science, Aeronautical Engineering, Minor in Mathematics, Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
- 2006 Master of Science, Aeronautical Engineering/Systems Engineering, Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
- 2010 Master of Philosophy/Strategy, School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
- 2013 Doctorate of Philosophy, Strategy, School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
- 2018 Harvard Business School Alumnus, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
- August 1998-August 1999, Student, Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training, Laughlin AFB, Texas
- October 1999-December 1999, Student, Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals, Columbus AFB, Mass.
- January 2000-June 2000, Student, F-15C Replacement Training Unit, 95th Fighter Squadron, Tyndall AFB, Fla.
- July 2000-December 2003, F-15C Fighter Pilot/Flight Lead, 19th Fighter Squadron, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska
- February 2004-June 2005, Student, Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
- July 2005-July 2006, Student, Air Force Test Pilot School, Edwards AFB, Calif.
- September 2006-June 2010, F-15C/E Instructor, A-10A/C, BD-700 Experimental Test Pilot and Chief of Flight Safety, 40th Flight test Squadron and Air Armament Center, Eglin AFB, Fla.
- June 2010-June 2011, Student, Air Force School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
- July 2011-June 2014, DARPA Fellow, Future Capabilities, Joint Innovation & Experimentation, US Pacific Command (USPACOM), Camp Smith, Hawaii
- July 2014-June 2017, F-22 Commander/Director of Operations, 411th Flight Test Squadron, Edwards AFB, Cali.
- July 2017-August 2018, Fellow, Harvard Business School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.
- June 2018-June 2019, Test and Evaluation Lead, AFWERX Initial Cadre, Cambridge, Mass.
- June 2019-June 2020, Director, USAF/MIT Artificial Intelligence Accelerator Initial Cadre, Cambridge, Mass.
- July 2020 - June 2022, Vice Commander, 412th Test Wing, Edwards AFB, Calif.
- June 2022 - Present, Commander, Arnold Engineering Development Complex, Arnold AFB, Tenn.
- Rating: Command pilot
- Hours Flown: More than 3,000
- Aircraft Flown: F-22A, F-15C/E, A-10A/A+/C, BD-700 (E-11 BACN), F-16A/C, and 70 others
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
- Defense Meritorious Service Medal
- Meritorious Service Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
- Air Medal
- Aerial Achievement Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters
- Joint Service Commendation Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
- Air Force Commendation Medal
- Joint Meritorious Unit Award
- Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters
- Combat Readiness Medal
- Air Force Recognition Ribbon
- National Defense Service Medal
- Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
- Afghanistan Campaign Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
- Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
- Air Force Overseas Ribbon Long
- Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with Gold Border
- Air Force Longevity Service with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters
- Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
- Air Force Training Ribbon
- NATO Medal
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
- Second Lieutenant May 27, 1998
- First Lieutenant May 27, 2000
- Captain May 27, 2002
- Major Oct 1, 2007
- Lieutenant Colonel Feb 1, 2013
- Colonel May 1, 2019
(Current as of June 2022)