KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
“Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you will land among the stars,” said Major Adah “Addie” Gallinatti, MC-130J instructor pilot 415th Special Operations Squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
Shoot for the stars is a common phrase almost every person has heard at some point in their lifetime. How many of them really attempt to shoot for the stars? Addie uses the phrase as she shares her story of her journey to reach for the stars.
Born and raised in Chicago, Addie grew up in a home like most Americans with social and economic challenges. Consistently moving back and forth between family members is a memory she vividly remembers and reflects upon.
By second grade, she had moved from Chicago to Austin, Texas where she spent a great portion of her life. She recalls the many moves that occurred within her adolescent years. Eventually by her senior year in high school, Addie returned to Austin where she was reunited with her younger brother.
It was here in Austin where she chose to pursue her childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut.
“I would see images and interviews of astronauts who shared their experience in space stations and space capsules,” Addie mentioned. “This really intrigued me and inspired me to want to experience this myself.”
With this goal in mind and with plenty of research, she discovered that by becoming a pilot she would be on track of “getting away from this world.” Naturally, the United States Air Force came into play, and this is where a determined Addie embarked on her journey of becoming an astronaut.
When applying to the United States Air Force Academy, Addie found herself in an unusual predicament. After years of moving around from place to place, the difficulty for her to acquire her transcripts from school was challenging. Let alone, having to also obtain a recommendation letter from a United States representative or senator. These experiences were just the tip of the iceberg of what it would take for her to accomplish her dream.
Addie decided to major in astronautical engineering and after her rigorous recruitment process for acceptance into the Air Force academy, her next challenge was not too far away.
“Academics never came naturally to me,” Addie said reluctantly. “At one point in the academy, I had a 1.8 GPA for the semester. I did not come all this way just to fail and not graduate! I needed to push through.”
After this initial academic challenge, Addie was put on academic probation as well as other restrictions to her academy life. She would go on to reprioritize her extracurricular activities and rededicated her time to her academics.
“In the summer, I forfeited three weeks’ worth of leave to take two summer courses,” Addie remarked. “This was to help me get ahead in my senior year of school.”
After graduating the Air Force Academy, Addie attended pilot training school in 2015. Her class consisted of 16 people, two of which were females. Later throughout the year the other female in the class departed to train elsewhere, leaving Addie as the only female pilot in her class.
There were two important things that Addie learned in pilot training school: family balance and unspoken barriers.
While in training, Addie took on the increasingly difficult challenge of adopting her younger brother. Juggling her training and legal efforts with the assistance of her instructors, she obtained guardianship of her younger brother. Addie managed to persevere through these challenges that were thrown her way.
“My classmate who was a guardsman brought in his daughter to class one day,” Addie recalls. “She looked at me and said aloud, ‘Dad! You didn’t tell me there were lady pilots.’ At that moment I didn’t realize how big that barrier was,” says Addie. “When I think about it today, I realize the impact of that encounter. Now that little girl can look at the aircraft and believe she can become a pilot one day.”
With all her successes, it appears that the future looks bright for Addie. With aspirations of becoming an astronaut still one of her dreams, she currently focuses on the next goal in her career which is to become a part of the school staff and later hopefully becoming part of the command structure.
Although faced with many adversities, Addie continues to break barriers. As a MC-130J instructor pilot at Kirtland, she continues to inspire future generations.
“The idea of being a potential role model to younger girls is humbling,” Addie states. “It makes me want to be the best I can be and ensure my mission is completed from all angles. Whether that be completing the mission itself or inspiring the next generation of Airmen. I may not be an astronaut right now, but I found other passions within my career field that I can chase after.”
“Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you will land among the stars” is something Addie heard when she was younger and has become a mantra for her to live by.