A little about you.
US Air Force Major Justin Lennon, F-35 pilot. I’ve been a USAF pilot for 9 years.
1. We certainly don’t want to dwell in the past, but sometimes it’s helps the drive forward to look in the rear view mirror. If you could go back and change one thing about the way you were raised, what would it be? If it’s nothing, tell us why?
I spent a lot of my childhood/youth in the closet hiding who I was. If I could change one thing it’d be to live authentically earlier.
2. If you could go back and tell your 10 year-old self, or tell an authority figure, one thing, which person would you choose and what would you say?
If I could go back I wish I could tell US Military and Political leaders that the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was much ado about nothing it it should’ve been repealed way earlier. I spent 4.5 years in the Air Force under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and it shaped my youth and upbringing because my sexuality was not compatible with my dream of being an Air Force pilot. Around the time of the appeal there was a lot of political infighting and rhetoric about its repeal affecting readiness and capability but it has only strengthened those.
3. When’s the last time you felt afraid and/or lonely? We’re not trying to be sad here but a little “me too” always feels good.
I felt most sad/lonely shortly after graduation from the Air Force Academy. I was in the process of achieving my dream of being an Air Force pilot but I was not happy because I couldn’t and wasn’t prepared to reveal my sexuality. While my friends were getting into relationships I could not.
4. We all know magic is way more than a card trick. So, when was the last time you experienced magic? Or the only way to describe the experience was “magical”?
My fiancé and I recently moved to England where I have been assigned at RAF Lakenheath. The sights and history of England has been a near magical experience for us. Getting to live in and experience such a place is an amazing adventure for us that we are grateful to have. (There are now 2 pieces of 08 left artwork hanging in our Cambridge townhouse!)
5. When is the last time you felt the most free? Any tips for how we can replicate it?
I feel the most free when I fly. One of my favorite quotes of all time: “I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.”
6. Is there a way that aviation taps into the sacred/holy/spiritual/universe to you? If not - no, wait, there has to be right?
Ehh, not really. I’ve never been much of a spiritual type but speaking of magical experiences taking off on a cloudy day and punching through to the sun on top is cool every single time. I’m still in awe when I get to do that today.
7. If you could guarantee 1 thing for yourself 10 years from now, what would it be? Or maybe it’s nothing because messing with the future is tricky?
I try not to think too much about the future and instead try to live in the present. But if I could guarantee one thing to myself it’s that I continue to love what I do. I’m passionate about all things flying and aviation so I’m hoping that my journey in life remains closely aligned with those passions. As they say if you enjoy your work you never work a day in your life!
8. What gives you hope that tomorrow will be better than today? And thus, gives us all a little hope?
Ehh; I don’t have a great answer for this one. What comes to mind for me being a passionate advocate for equality and diversity is seeing the steady change and progress of equality around the world. There is plenty more work to be done but every generation is steadily ensuring more equality around the world than the one before.