Lt. Col. John “Brick” Caldwell is the Commander and Leader of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. I had never met Brick before this interview, but several pilots I’ve flown with have a tremendous amount of respect for him. After our conversation, I do as well. He is an accomplished warrior with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He has over 660 combat flight hours, a Distinguished Flying Cross, and is a graduate of the USAF weapons school. He served for several years in the Air Force’s Test and Evaluation Squadron, overseeing the latest fighter aircraft technology. He now leads the 130-person Thunderbird organization and flies the number 1 jet.

Brick is a world-class professional who is also a great communicator. He talks about some emotionally difficult topics as well lessons he’s learned along the way. I think everyone can take away something from this interview. Feel free to share this episode with someone who you think would benefit most.In this episode, we talk about, in order:

  • His first passion for aviation (minute 0:00)
  • Turning a dream into reality (minute 5:00)
  • Lessons learned (minute 6:00)
  • Deployment to Iraq (minute 07:00)
  • Losing a friend in combat (minute 10:10)
  • Taking enemy life (minute 19:15)
  • Deployment to Afghanistan (minute 21:15)
  • The mission he received a Distinguished Flying Cross (minute 24:00)
  • Combat Lessons learned (minute 28:15)
  • Test and evaluation experience (minute 31:00)
  • F-16 Viper evolution (minute 37:15)
  • Decision to join Thunderbirds (minute 41:45)
  • Being Thunderbird #1 (minute 50:15)
  • His crazy schedule (minute 53:00)
  • Thunderbird debriefs (minute 57:00)
  • Looking forward to most this season (minute 58:30)