Lance Michael

Portrait of Michael Lance
It's been gratifying to know that I've been part of a team that has been a valuable asset for our nation's defense.

When and why did you join the Laboratory?

I joined the Laboratory in 1990. I was in the process of separating from the U.S. Air Force, stationed in Arizona, and was looking to find a job that would keep me involved in aviation in New England. In the days before news organizations had an online presence, my father was mailing me the classified section from the Boston Globe, and an ad for an engineer to work on an airborne test bed caught my attention because there was a picture of an airplane in the ad.

What project have you recently been working on?

My life at the Laboratory is probably atypical in that I've spent most of my career on the same project. I was the lead engineer and mission systems operator for the Airborne Seeker Test Bed (ASTB). The initial ASTB project spanned two different aircraft and 32 years with the retirement of the Gulfstream II aircraft in December, 2022. The ASTB conducted more than 1,100 missions and I flew on almost 90% of them.

The ASTB project has been a workhorse for the Air Force Red Team's Air Vehicle Survivability program. Early in my career, we responded quickly to deliver test results directly to the warfighter in support of Desert Shield, which was acknowledged publicly decades later.

What have you found rewarding about working at Lincoln Laboratory?

I've appreciated that at the Laboratory, opportunities exist if you want to pursue them. I was very interested in the results of the ASTB test campaigns and my role grew from mission systems operator into data analyst. It's very rewarding to participate in mission planning and test execution, and then provide the analysis and brief the results to the program offices and the community.

What are some of your future plans?

Since the retirement of the ASTB, I've been focusing on data analysis and plans to integrate sensors on the next Red Team airborne test bed. I'm also looking forward to my own retirement, which will start in May, 2024.