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Wonder what it’s like to fly for NASA Earth science expeditions? Ask our research…

Wonder what it’s like to fly for NASA Earth science expeditions? Ask our research…

Wonder what it’s like to fly for NASA Earth science expeditions? Ask our research pilot anything! 

This January, we’re kicking off five new airborne Earth science expeditions aimed at studying our home planet from the land, sea and air. Here’s your chance to hear what it’s like from the cockpit! 

Research pilot Dean “Gucci” Neeley will be taking your questions in an Answer Time session on Friday, January 10 from 12-1pm ET here on NASA’s Tumblr! Find out what it’s like to fly research aircraft that use the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of Earth, improve lives and safeguard our future! Make sure to ask your question now by visiting!

Dean Neeley, retired U.S. Air Force officer and pilot, joined our Armstrong Flight Research Center in 2012 as a research pilot. Neeley flies a diverse array of highly modified airborne science, research and mission support aircraft such as the single-seat Lockheed ER-2 high-altitude science jet. The ER-2 collects information about Earth resources, celestial observations, atmospheric chemistry and dynamics and oceanic processes. Neeley has also flown the Gulfstream G-II mission support aircraft, which explores environmentally friendly aircraft concepts, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), which observes the solar system and beyond at mid- and far-infrared wavelengths, and the C-20A (G-III) science platform aircraft, which carries our Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s synthetic aperture radar. 

Dean Neeley Fun Facts 

  • Dean’s call sign Gucci came from flying KC-10 “Gucci Boys” before being hired to fly U-2 aircraft. Some say he spends too much time/money on his hair, clothes, cars. 😂
  • He played drums in two rock bands in the 80s and 90s; Agent Orange and the Defoliants; The Mod Sky Gods.
  • He spent his years in the Air Force as a reconnaissance squadron commander, wing chief of safety, stealth fighter squadron director and bomber in multiple worldwide aerial combat campaigns.
  • Dean holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and a Master of Aeronautical Science degree.

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