Dr. Joseph Nichols, Technical Adviser for Flight Test and Evaluation, was appointed as a member of the Senior Level Career Service of the United States of America, during a ceremony honoring Nichols Nov. 15, in the Alliance Ballroom at Club Muroc.
The presiding officer for the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Arnold Bunch, Jr., Air Force Test Center commander, noted that there are only 11 senior civilian leaders in the Air Force Material Command and only 20 in the Air Force as a whole.
“We’re talking about a pretty select process,” said Bunch.
Prior to administering the oath, Bunch shared stories from throughout Nichols’ life and career.
Nichols’ father was a semi-pro baseball player that joined the Air Force and went into pilot training. After pilot training, he lost his eye sight during a baseball accident and became a logistics officer, and eventually retired after†24 years of service.
“That is his foundation,” said Bunch. “Really, the Air Force was Joe’s life.”
In 1983, Nichols received his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Brigham Young University and joined the Air Force as a lieutenant.
Since that time, he has served for 26 years as an Air Force officer, retiring as a colonel. During his military career he served as a flight test engineer, test squadron commander and group commander.
He was a senior non-rated aircrew member with flight test experience in the F-111, F-16, C-130 and C-17. Dr. Nichols was appointed a Senior Leader Executive†last month†after earning his Doctor of Philosophy in mechanical engineering from Brigham Young University this year.
He is the senior technical adviser to the Air Force Test Center commander regarding health and suitability of airframe, avionics, installed propulsion and electronic warfare flight and supporting ground test capability across the Air Force Test Center’s test ranges and facilities valued at over $31 billion, including 116 aircraft and 164 ground test facilities. Nichols establishes flight test and evaluation technical policy and procedures and provides technical expertise and direction to the†AFTC workforce. He formulates testing approaches to assure scientific validity, effectiveness and efficiency in accomplishing ground and flight tests. He represents the center on the Air Force Materiel Command Engineering Council, the Executive Committee of the Range Commanders Council, and the Spectrum Stewardship Senior Steering Group.
When Bunch asked Nichols’ wife, Diane, how she felt about his new job, she answered, “I read the job description and I couldn’t believe anything could fit anyone better than the job description fit him. He is passionate about the Air Force; he loves the Air Force and he loves to tell the Air Force story and he still bleeds blue.”
“Whenever I come to Edwards, it’s hard for me not to think about the first time I came to Edwards as an officer and that was the first week of test pilot school,” said Nichols. “One of the first things they did with our class was put us in a bus and drove us out to the middle of the lake bed and we watched a B-2 take off and that was so cool. Then I found myself sitting in back of a T-38 watching an SR-71 doing close patterns. I thought, ‘this is so cool and I’m just so happy that I’m here.’ I’m so happy to be part of this mission again.”