Friends came to congratulate F-16 Test Pilot Col. Todd Ericson on his retirement from the U.S. Air Force and his new adventure as a Virgin Galactic pilot, but in lieu of gifts for Todd and his wife Mary Beth, the Ericson family asked that friends donate household items and toys for Airman’s Attic, a free shop for airmen stationed at Edwards Air Force Base.
“No one works harder to support the Air Force mission than young airmen and their families,” said Todd. “We wanted to show our appreciation by collecting a few things that might be useful for them as they start their families’ lives and careers.”
The couple met several times while Mary Beth’s brother, Heath Graves, and Todd were classmates at the Air Force Academy and started dating while Todd was at pilot training. “My brother would not let me hang out with any of his friends, except for Todd,” said Mary Beth, “see where that got him!” They dated for two years and married just after she finished grad school in 1994.
The tightly knit family runs an urban ranch in the Antelope Valley where they raise goats, peacocks, chickens, turkeys and keep bees. With the milk and beeswax they gather, they make cheese and produce soaps and lotions. “We feel so fortunate to live in California where we can do this,” says Todd. “Plus we are driving distance to the mountains for snow skiing, fishing and hiking. Or we can be camping at the beach with a few hours’ notice. And best of all the weather is always great for flying.”
When asked about the Airman’s Attic fundraiser, Mary Beth said. “We want our boys to learn to give back to our community and especially to those men and women who have kept their dad safe all these years. Everyone loves to give back and we were happy to make it easy for our friends to do that.”