LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. — From a distance, Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Fridinger, the first sergeant for the Air Combat Command Communications Support Squadron, looks like any other senior noncommissioned officer; his uniform is in order, military-issued silver glasses frame his eyes, his hair trimmed with precision.
But what makes Fridinger unique is what he carries in his briefcase and how he uses its contents to connect with those he encounters every day.
“I can’t sing, I have no rhythm, I have no musical talent — no talents whatsoever, so why not do magic?” Fridinger joked. “When you do the tricks people always say, ‘How do you do that?’ But you don’t really want to know because it ruins it.”
Fridinger began practicing magic after a high school trip to New York where he visited a magic shop. It wasn’t until he spent years polishing his craft, and with a lot of encouragement from his wife, that he thought of expanding his audience.
“When I met [my wife] I had a briefcase full of card tricks and she was like, ‘Why don’t you do more with that?’” Fridinger recalled. “Now I have a room full of magic tricks. I have magic stuff in my car; I’m always prepared to do something.”
When he’s not teaching magic classes to children or entertaining his own four children, Fridinger said his magic also allows him to reach his airmen from a different angle.
“Most of them love it,” he said of his coworkers. “I would love to see all the [senior noncommissioned officers] do an open show for the airmen in the dorms. From my perspective, magic builds that personable authority where they trust you and they like you so they want to come to you with their problems. The airmen will see their leaders as people.”
According to Fridinger, not all of his tricks are for simple amusement. He also performs magic with specific messages geared toward enhancing the pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness and the Air Force core values.
“Depending on how far you want to go, I have stuff that has built-in messages. I gave one to an Air Force recruiter that he could do when he’s meeting people,” he explained. “I’m not a gospel magician, but I try to do stuff that has a message at the beginning and a message at the end so it’s not just entertainment.”
During one of his squadron Comprehensive Airmen Fitness days, Fridinger visited the Hampton, Virginia, Veterans Affairs Hospital and entertained veterans suffering from a variety of ailments. The magician said he believes it’s important to give back to the community that has given so much to him.
“If you have something you really love and enjoy, find a way to give it back to the community,” Fridinger said. “It’s not just good for them; it’s good for you too.”