Prior to his retirement in September 2011, David A. Wright served as a research pilot and manager in the Flight Operations Directorate at NASA's Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA.
Wright came to Dryden in 1999 after his retirement from the Air Force, serving as a research pilot of the Center's two high-altitude ER-2 Earth resources aircraft, a civil variant of the military U-2S reconnaissance aircraft, and occasionally flying other aircraft in the center's mission support fleet. From 2002 until 2004, he held the position of deputy director of the Airborne Science Program at Dryden while continuing to fly a variety of research missions in the ER-2s.
Wright was then advanced to Director of Flight Operations in 2004, a position he held until 2008 when he was appointed Associate Director for Operations at NASA Dryden, responsible for oversight of the Flight Operations, Research and Engineering, Test Systems, Safety and Mission Assurance, and Information Technology directorates.
During a short period away from Dryden between October 2009 through mid-2010, Wright was employed by BAE Systems as Air Combat Command Operations Liaison to the U.S. Air Force 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, CA, providing operational and subject matter expertise, advice, and support as part of the 9th Operations Group staff. He then returned to Dryden, again serving as Director of Flight Operations at NASA Dryden, responsible for support of pilots, aircrew and flight operations, operations engineering and maintenance of all NASA aircraft at Dryden until his retirement from NASA.
Prior to coming to NASA, Wright served for more than 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, including a three-year assignment with the Joint Staff J3, Directorate of Operations at the Pentagon. Prior to the that assignment, he was commander of the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base near Marysville, Calif., the unit responsible for training all U-2 pilots. He was the operations officer for one the largest U-2 operations in history, flying reconnaissance missions over Iraq and managing an unprecedented U-2 flying schedule during the 1991 Desert Storm conflict. Wright also saw duty as an aircraft commander in the E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, and was a T-38 instructor for three years following completion of pilot training in 1978.
Wright graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and computer science. He earned a Master of Arts in Adult Education from Troy State University, Montgomery, AL, in 1987, and a Master of Science in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, Newport, RI, in 1995. Wright has accumulated more than 4,500 flight hours in six different aircraft.