HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The 2015 AFLCMC Engineering Frederick T. Rall Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award was recently presented to Michael Hackett, A-10 Chief Engineer, A-10 Aircraft Division at Hill Air Force Base.
Hackett received the award because of his technical leadership, spanning three decades, spent acquiring and sustaining U.S. Air Force weapon systems to accomplish critical mission requirements while saving in excess of $500 million.
Hackett has spent 24 years of his 33-year engineering career in the military. When he attended college on an ROTC scholarship, his intent was to become an Air Force pilot, following in the footsteps of his father, who had been a pilot in the Air Force for 28 years.
“I bought into the concept of protecting our country and the people you cared about,” Hackett said.
However, Hackett’s plans changed when he learned he was too color blind to become a pilot.
“Since I couldn’t fly airplanes, I wanted to make sure we took care of the guys that could fly planes and make sure we had the best systems we could possibly give them,” Hackett said, explaining why he has spent his career working on systems on a number of aircraft, including significant roles on the RF-4C, F-22, C-130J, CV-22 and chief engineer on the F-16 and A-10.
After his first tour of duty, Hackett started working on new systems developments for F-22s, ensuring they were maintainable and could quickly be deployable and mission-capable. He later moved onto other projects that broadened his opportunities.
“Within my career, I have been on a lot of different platforms and commands because I wanted to be able to understand all of those lineages within the Air Force and how those types of organizations worked best together,” Hackett said. “It is a great honor to be considered for this award and validates the sacrifices that you make, but truthfully, I didn’t need an award for that. I get the feeling of satisfaction hearing from the guys operating the systems.”
Hackett says that looking at what the Air Force has been doing in the last 10 to 15 years to make pilots safer and focus the systems to be more precise has been an important part of his job. “We try to make war as moral as we can, making sure we focus our efforts and the effectiveness of our systems to get the people that are important for the protection of our country without damaging more than that,” he said.
One of the most challenging things Hackett has encountered during his career has been managing programs with changing budget requirements. But the satisfaction comes when the plans are flexible enough to accommodate those changes.
Looking to the future with the uncertainty of the A-10’s future, Hackett wants to continue taking care of its systems, giving the airplanes their due respect. In the long term, Hackett hopes to stay in Utah.