Center Snapshot - Luci Crittenden
Luci Crittenden.
Image above: At the first stop past the entry, Luci Crittenden greets visitors to the "Airpower Over Hampton Roads" air show with three of NASA Langley's airplanes. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith.

By: Denise Adams

Luci Crittenden has been involved in the Langley Air Show for more than 12 years, and why not? She's involved in aviation with her family year-round.

At the “Airpower Over Hampton Roads” show last weekend at Langley Air Force Base, Crittenden was accompanied by a Cessna 206, an OV-10 Bronco and a Lancair Columbia 300. Children and adults were lined up to learn more about these NASA airplanes, and Crittenden and several other volunteers were there to answer their questions and to pass out NASA promotional items.

Many of the children walking through the air show grounds had a NASA bag proudly in their grip.

“I love meeting people at the air shows,” Crittenden said. “It’s a good way to get the word out to the kids and prepare the next generation.”

As a senior flight operations engineer at NASA Langley, she coordinates flight tests, plans deployments and assists researchers and pilots with the proper procedures and policies for flight testing. She is doing runway friction studies for the Air Force C-17 Semi Prepared Runway Operations (SPRO) program.

“When you are in a flight organization, it’s like you are a part of a squadron,” she said. “There’s always a buddy system … always a back-up. Everyone works as one big team, or it doesn’t work at all.”

Crittenden is not only part of a squadron at work, but also when she is at home.

Her husband, Tom, is a pilot for US Airways. Her son, Tommy, is a pilot in the Air Force, stationed in Charleston, S.C.

“If a suitcase is on the floor, you know that someone is home,” she said.

Crittenden and her husband took Tommy to simulators and offered him paid flying lessons. “But he didn’t want anything to do with flying at that time,” she said. “But he came home one day and told us that he applied to the Air Force Academy and wanted to be a pilot. We were very excited for him.”

They share the bond of aviation.

Although Crittenden has never received her private pilot’s license, she has attended ground school and has flown simulators at Langley and at Boeing in Seattle. She graduated from William and Mary with a degree in mathematics and later studied computer science and aerospace engineering.

She does occasionally take a break from flight. Crittenden and her family have a summer home in the Finger Lakes region of New York. “We always drive,” she added.

She and her husband have been to every state in the U.S., except North Dakota. They had a trip planned there but put it “on hold” to attend “Parents Weekend” at the Air Force Academy.

Crittenden most enjoys traveling in Europe and loves the people in Germany. She has been to London many times. Her fondness for travel started when she was a pre-teen and had pen pals in Yugoslavia and Italy, which allowed her to learn about those countries before visiting them. She still maintains contact with both of those pen pals and has met them several times. “Of course, now you have the Internet,” she said, "which makes correspondence much easier.

Crittenden is expecting to continue to spread the word about aviation and aeronautics at NASA Langley at next year’s air show. After all, it's aviation and a tradition.

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