Dean Neeley is a research pilot at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. He joined the NASA Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Operations Directorate in 2012 after serving 25 years as an Air Force officer and pilot, retiring with the rank of Colonel.
Neeley flies a diverse array of highly modified airborne science, research and mission support aircraft. These include the single-seat Lockheed ER-2 high-altitude science jet, the Boeing 747SP Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) airplane, the Gulfstream G-II mission support aircraft, and C-20A (G-III) science platform aircraft carrying NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's synthetic aperture radar.
During his military career, Neeley served in headquarters staff positions as the Director of Theater Security Cooperation and Chief of Operational Plans at U.S. Air Forces Central Command, following joint duty as a division chief and politico-military affairs officer at the U.S. European Command.
Neeley spent his first 19 years in the Air Force as a reconnaissance squadron commander, wing chief of safety, stealth fighter squadron director of operations as well as pilot for numerous aircraft: such as a tanker, airlift, trainer and bomber in multiple worldwide aerial combat campaigns. He accrued 5,850 flight hours as a command pilot, primarily in the U-2, F-117, T-38, KC-10, T-37 and B-52G/H.
Neeley holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M University and a Master of Aeronautical Science degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. His military decorations include 25 individual and unit awards. He is a life member of the Order of Daedalians military pilot fraternity, Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, the Air Force Association and the Stealth Fighter Association.