New AEDC Flight Systems director aims to support, grow his team
By Deidre Ortiz, AEDC/PA
/ Published August 05, 2019
ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- As of June 28, Lt. Col. John McShane took on his role as director of AEDC Flight Systems Combined Test Force at Arnold Air Force Base.
While new to the job and the area, McShane is full-speed ahead in conducting business as usual.
“My goals are, first off, to take care of the people because they’re the ones that do the work. I want to find out the things that are causing them issues, or to use one analogy, the barnacles on the ship,” he said. “I want to find out what those things are and take on those burdens and allow them to do their job.
“The second is to grow the team to what we need the CTF to be, as far as performance or manpower end strength. We are healthy now, but there’s a lot of work coming here. I can quickly see that we will be burning both ends of the candle if we’re not cognizant of taking care of the workforce.”
McShane commented that by taking care of the people first, the CTF team can put its focus on meeting test requirements to meet the needs of the nation.
“Another priority is to provide high-fidelity data to the program offices to enable them to make informed decisions to support their fielding timelines,” he said. “The real output of AEDC is actionable information. The goal is to ensure that AEDC and the Flight Systems CTF are the ‘gold standard’ for wind tunnel data and that people come here first or come here because the pedigree of data we’re providing is the highest.”
He added that the importance of what AEDC does is not lost on him.
“The mission is extremely important to our nation,” McShane said. “We are in a phase of a great power competition, and that’s not hyperbole – it’s true. We need to make sure that our warfighters have the very best that our nation can provide. Our leadership is committed to that and we are seeing some very advanced systems come to AEDC for truly their first look at how they will perform.
“We are one of the initial steps in the eventual fielding of those systems, which is paramount. I feel very fortunate to be part of that and the team that actually does the heavy lifting. They’re truly the nation’s subject matter experts in this field. Many have been here for their whole career and their knowledge spans decades. It’s impressive. I just try to keep up with what they tell me.”
McShane received his commission in 2004 from the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. From there, he was assigned to the 46th Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, where he served as a flight element chief for the developmental testing of electronic warfare systems. After this assignment, he went to the Air Force Institute of Technology and earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering with a focus in electromagnetics.
Upon graduating, he served as a project engineer for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s System Technology Office, where he led air staff-directed research and developmental programs to ensure U.S. air dominance.
In 2011, McShane was then selected to attend U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School. Following this, he served as a Flight Commander, then Director of Operations in flight test squadrons. As a DO, he led a 98-member team through 45 developmental test missions, which included a first flight and envelope expansion of a high-risk prototype.
Prior to joining Team AEDC, McShane was the Program Element Monitor for Advanced Aircraft Technology at the Director of Special Programs, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, based at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Here he directed planning, programming, budgeting and execution of special access programs worth over $2 billion and led a 60-person, joint multi-agency team that establishes the national strategic survivability roadmap.
McShane has led over 24 development and operational test programs and more than 575 hours of flight test to include over 120 missions in which he directly controlled mission aircraft and resources to meet test objectives.
He has also logged more than 274 hours in military and civilian aircraft while holding previous qualifications as instructor and evaluator, flight test director and flight test conductor. Additionally, he holds DOD Acquisition Corps Level III certifications in Test and Evaluation, Level III in Program Management and Level I in Systems Engineering.
Through all his success in his Air Force career, McShane mentioned another of his greatest accomplishments is as a husband and father. He has been married to his wife Kelly for 11 years and they have four children.
“I met my wife Kelly in 2005, when we were both 2nd lieutenants,” he said. “She was stationed at Hill Air Force Base and I was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base. We got married in 2008 and have three girls and a boy. It’s busy and there’s never a dull moment. She’s a stay-at-home mom now, and I think her job is busier, harder than mine is.”
Though he has moved a lot and held several positions within the Air Force, he’s excited to be at Arnold.
“The people are very friendly here,” he said. “They’ve definitely taken the time to help me understand AEDC and its construct – all the different functional areas that execute the mission. Southern middle Tennessee is beautiful and it’s wonderful for a family. My children love it. We have gone to the lake multiple times, we’re outside all the time, and it is a great place.”
He added he’s ready to learn so he can give his AEDC team his all.
“AEDC is unique in how it does test execution. There’s a lot of similarities to other flight test organizations but there’s also unique things from an AEDC perspective that helps us be very efficient with our time. Overall, I’ve been very impressed with AEDC and the test team that’s here. My goal is to learn the system and our test techniques to best enable the people who are doing the work.”