I’m a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. I started my career flying the F-16, where I led pilots into combat—there, I flew 80+ combat missions, often supporting troops under fire.

I then transitioned to the F-35, which was still in development at the time. During my last role on active duty, I became the Chief of Training Systems for the largest training base in the world, leading the development of new technology and teaching methods to train future fighter pilots.

I’ve spent the last several years writing a book - “The Art of Clear Thinking” It provides a toolkit for people to make better decisions in their lives. Think Top Gun meets a Malcolm Gladwell book. It just came out this week and has been doing well, so thank you for the support.

Ask me anything!

*Edit: Wow, After I signed off, I didn’t expect this AMA to take off like it did. I’m back for a while to answer some more questions.

Comments: 365 • Responses: 60  • Date: 

Space_Guppy82 karma

I live under the flight path for a base which had hosted F-16's for training, until very recently when they switched to F-35's. The locals have been in an uproar for the last few years ever since it was announced. I was talking to an ATC, and he said even though they are louder they should be glad since there will be far fewer flights since the F-35 is so expensive to fly. Is that true?

HasardLee144 karma

No, i have bad news for you. They're probably going to be the same number of flights. We're training to go to war if we have to.

Generallybadadvice71 karma

If you had to train someone with no flight experience to fly an f35 competently, and you had no limits for your resources for this training and just needed to get it done as fast as possible, how quickly do you think you could do it?

HasardLee102 karma

It depends on risk--if this were WWII and we could accept crashes once a week, probably pretty fast. You could likely get an OK wingman in a year. They'd have holes in their flying, so it would take a few years to fill those in.

Linds7066 karma

How are the Ukrainians going to effectively use F16s with their rough runways? If they improve them, won't the Russians see the construction and know right where they are enabling them to target them?

HasardLee85 karma

That's definitely an issue. The F-16 needs near-perfect conditions to take off and land

Apprehensive_Mango3655 karma

Do you still enjoy general aviation, flying cessnas and pipers? Or does it get boring after flying an f16?

HasardLee24 karma

I still enjoy it, but just for an afternoon occasionally. It just can't compare to sitting on top of 40,000+ pounds of thrust. A tremendous amount of work goes into every flight in a fighter, so just hopping in a plane can be a nice change of pace though.

LoneApricot52 karma

Is it peaceful up there or is the aircraft too noisy? Or do the G-Forces get in the way of enjoying that view?

HasardLee108 karma

It's extremely busy and loud. You're always trying to knock out the next task. Every once in a while you get to take a breath and look around

BerkshireKnight49 karma

If you're a stealth pilot, how come I can see you?

HasardLee18 karma

Oh yeah? What beverage am I sipping...

luikan48 karma

How long did it take the bruises to go away from your ~40 second 9.0G experiment?

Do you have a specific go-to meal before flying?

Any fun superstitions related to flying?

Is it a requirement to shave lower facial hair around the chin/jaw/neck, seeing as that might get in the way of having your mask fit properly?

HasardLee79 karma

That was painful. It took about 3 days for it to go away, but about a week until I was back to 100%.

I just make sure to eat something. Our heart rates sometimes get to 180 when flying, so we're burning a lot of calories.

No, that's a myth

QuaintAlex12646 karma

I've heard a lot of pros about being a fighter pilot; you get paid to do a cool job, have an amazing view, etc. I haven't heard much about the cons though. What do you think the cons to your job are? Is there anything you don't like about being a fighter pilot for the Air Force?

HasardLee77 karma

I'm a part-time reservist now, so I only fly and don't have a desk job. However, full-time pilots spend a lot of time answering emails and doing other non-tactical things. You also move every 3 years, which can be challenging when you have a family.

HasardLee41 karma

Thanks for all the questions, I'm signing off now. This was a lot of fun--I’m looking forward to being back on soon!

Edit: I'm back for round 2

sirhoitytoity40 karma

Are there any aircraft that you didn’t fly, but that you wish you were given an opportunity to do so?

HasardLee99 karma

SR-71 and F-22

JsDaFax34 karma

I maintained F-16’s at Hill, Osan, and Luke from ‘00-‘04. I was promised an incentive flight while supporting Red Flag in ‘02, but my flight was given to someone else at the time. Don’t suppose you could arrange for another one 20 years after-the-fact, could you?

Anyway, thanks for keeping up the good fight!

HasardLee20 karma

Can you pass a flight medical? If so, I'll reach out on your behalf. I don't think it's likely, but it's worth a shot...

Ok_Quiet_937531 karma

Im 50. Should i start chasing my dream?

HasardLee70 karma

You should definitely get your pilot's license. Soloing an aircraft is an incredible experience that changed my life. It doesn't take long to do it. It's the best thing I've found for improving decision-making

Winnah900028 karma

What improvements could be made in future fighter aircraft in your opinion?

HasardLee73 karma

We need to speed up the development. The F-22 and F-35 both took about 15 years. Way too slow. The cost overruns were high as well. If we can improve that it will make a big difference.

Either_Design625926 karma

How the air force allow you to make videos about being an air force pilot?

HasardLee83 karma

You have to get it approved by Public Affairs. Recruiting has taken a hit over the last few years, so they're actively looking for ways to promote the AF

RoughTrain25 karma

Do you believe Commander David Fravor and Ryan Graves’s eye witness testimony regarding their UAP experiences?

Thank you for your service.

HasardLee89 karma

You see a lot of things you can't explain when flying. It's like driving across the country, you see a glint of light here, a strange water feature there. We're extremely busy when flying, so we don't have time to explore. Is it aliens? I haven't seen any yet.

thvemma25 karma

I want to become a fighter pilot in the USAF and I plan to do ROTC in college. Do you have any advice for me?

HasardLee65 karma

That's the best path for most people. I didn't do ROTC, but I'm sure it's similar. Keep your grades up, don't get into trouble, show that you're passionate about ROTC, be a good person that helps others, and do a little flying to see if you enjoy it.

PALLY3125 karma

Dear Hasard, you are an inspiration, and thank you for this AMA. Question I have is this: During mission critical moments, besides being well prepared (well trained) and well briefed, how would you advise one to overcome combat/performance anxiety?

Thanks, Hasard! Hope to hear from you.

Edit x3: Clarity and syntax.

HasardLee46 karma

We focus a lot on the human aspect of flying. Being well prepared is #1, but after that, there are a lot of techniques. Everything is connected in your life, so you need proper sleep, nutrition, and exercise. There are breathing exercises, visualization exercises, and ways to control your inner dialogue

foundthetallesttree2 karma

Is this the kind of stuff covered in your book? Sounds interesting!

HasardLee5 karma

Absolutely, it's an important aspect that the AF has gone all in on in the last few years

svasalatii23 karma

Hey Hasard. Just a quick thanks for your AmA session.

Did you have a chance to fly with some Ukrainian pilots or meet any of them? How do you think they will master F-16s fast enough after flying Soviet Su's?

HasardLee27 karma

Transitioning to a new aircraft is difficult—especially a jump that big. It's absolutely possible, it comes down to how much training and time is needed. Lots of factors to consider, more so about the infrastructure required to support the jets

slom6822 karma

Did you watch Top Gun Maverick? Was it clear to you why they flew F-18s instead of fifth generation fighters for their final mission?

HasardLee65 karma

I did, and thought it was a good movie. They made a OK case for it based on having to use GBU-24's. In reality, all those F-18s would have been shot down.

TA_faq4316 karma

I’ve read about some anecdotal infiltration or at least influence of white nationalists/jihadi christians in Air Force, etc.

Is the Air Force doing anything about such rumors or see it as a real problem?

HasardLee6 karma

I've never seen this.

InternalOwl891916 karma

Do you need perfect vision to be a pilot?

HasardLee37 karma

No, glad you brought this up. It just needs to be correctable to 20/20. Wait until you get into the AF to get the surgery, as there are a lot of requirements

SpaceElevatorMusic12 karma

Thanks for the AMA. Could you explain for people that have heard of the “OODA” loop but don’t really ‘get it’ what the loop is? Is that still taught to fight pilots?

HasardLee35 karma

John Boyd is the godfather of aviation decision-making. Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. He changed the Air Force for the better, which is difficult to do as an individual. What's taught to most fighter pilots is a version of what I go into in my book, Assess, Choose, and Execute.

Apprehensive_Cry159311 karma

What’s the oldest you have seen an age waiver granted for fighter pilot? Is 35 too old?

HasardLee19 karma

33 is the max age. I haven't seen anyone older. It might be possible, but I haven't seen it.

meatman442010 karma

Which of the two main aircraft you’ve flown do you prefer and what’s makes that decision? Thanks for the AMA!

HasardLee50 karma

There's nothing like the F-16, it's like a stripped-down hot rod. That being said, the F-35 is far more capable since it's 40 years newer.


Hi Hasard, love your YouTube channel, keep those videos coming!

As a civilian (with PPL if it matters), what’s the closest I can get to flying a fighter jet like F-16? I’ve seen some L-39 experiences, but I was wondering if the military allows (or will ever allow) flights in something like the F-16 trainers.

HasardLee18 karma

Thank you, that's great to hear. I think an L-39 or S-211. There are civilian F-16's, but they're for training against military pilots. The door is open now, maybe that will change in the next few years...

cell-on-a-plane9 karma

Have you ever thought applying to be an astronaut?

HasardLee44 karma

No, I have the perfect setup now, I fly, write, and make youtube videos. Would i go into space though? You bet.

nyc_20047 karma

Shipping out to USAFA this summer. Currently have PPL. Any advice for somebody who wants to end up in fighters?

HasardLee28 karma

Good luck, i remember that time. Don't burn yourself out at the Academy. They purposely give you more to do than you're capable of. Do the best you can and make sure you're taking care of yourself--sleeping, eating, and exercising. As long as you make it through and don't get into any trouble, you'll get a pilot slot. Once you get to pilot training, it's game on--be the hardest worker in the world.

CervixAssassin7 karma

Who is better pilot, Topper Harley or Ted Striker?

HasardLee29 karma

Topper Harley or Ted Striker

Russell Casse

Fs-x7 karma

What versions of the F-16 have you flown?

What aircraft have you faced in either the F-16 and F-35 in DACT and what was the experience like.

Thank you!

HasardLee32 karma

I've flown the F-16 block 40 and 50. I've also flown in an F-16A.

Plenty of training with and against all the modern western aircraft at Red Flag and other exercises. Our ability to work together as part of a large 100-aircraft team is far above any other AF. It's like playing football, each aircraft has it's own strength and role. Rarely is it a 1v1 fight.

toxic_anon7 karma

Do you believe two-seater fighters have a place in modern air-combat?

HasardLee8 karma

In very limited scenarios. Our technology allows us to operate far more effectively than in the past. That's why all the latest fighters are single-seat.

AnInnO7 karma

Being a combat aviator across that many missions, what was the closest call you’ve ever had?

HasardLee25 karma

There are a lot of them. One that stands out is when my base was attacked just before landing, and we almost ran out of fuel. We ended up doing a high risk air refueling just in time

vinnymcapplesauce7 karma

How would you explain “The Art of Clear Thinking” to a 6-year old?

HasardLee8 karma

Exciting stories that will teach you how to make better choices

ddesideria897 karma

How often do pilots are forced to take drugs on a mission?

HasardLee5 karma


namcmanus5 karma

I read somewhere that many fighter pilots have come down with prostate cancer, the thought of the source of the higher than normal incidence is the position of the magnetron for the radar is/was directly under the seat of the pilot. Is this an issue ? Have they moved the magnetron position from the spot directly under the pilot seat ?

Your thoughts on this issue, is it a concern ?

HasardLee9 karma

You're sitting on top of the world's largest microwave for thousands of hours. I'm sure the design tries to mitigate the effects as much as possible. I don't think anyone knows. Hopefully they do more studies.

slom685 karma

Is it just a matter of time that pilots that will be at a disadvantage against drones or remotely piloted jets because they can’t withstand the g forces?

HasardLee18 karma

Dogfighting is only a fraction of our job. It will be a long time before manned fighters are fully replaced. Augmented with drones, that's a different story.

White_crow6065 karma

Have you ever been a pilot of no-military aircrafts? If so, what are the main difference in term of sensation/ personal feeling? Thanks

HasardLee36 karma

I've flown some light civilian aircraft. Nothing comes close to flying fighter aircraft. You're flying a 100-million-dollar jet faster than the speed of sound. It's tough to compete with that on a normal budget.

No-Truck-3344 karma

Hello Hasard, I’ve been watching your videos for some time now, and I wanted to ask this question since you’re an f-35 pilot. I know the f-35’s strengths are in its capabilities regarding bvr engagements, and this has led many people to believe that the f-35 can’t dogfight along with rumors of dogfight trials. In your personal experience with flying the f-16, a two circle dogfight monster, and the f-35, a hive-mind in the sky, is the f-35 up to par regarding dogfighting and maneuverability when compared to forth gen fighters like the viper or the eagle, and if not does it’s technological abilities make up for it during dogfighting scenarios?

HasardLee27 karma

The F-35 can absolutely dogfight. Now there are strengths and weaknesses when compared to other aircraft. It doesn't just dominate like the F-22, but it is a good dogfighting platform. That being said, dogfighting is a small skill set of a modern fighter pilot.

ihatetraffic14 karma

I heard a story of a Navy WSO who pooped who’s pants while in flight. How often do pilots and other aircrew poop themselves?

HasardLee9 karma

Haha, that would be a code-brown. I've heard second-hand stories but have never been in a squadron when someone did that.

FirstDagger4 karma

  1. Panther or Fat Amy, what do F-35 Drivers call her secretly?

  2. PW or GE Vipers, which do you like more?

  3. Do you think the USAF should get their Vipers CFTs?

HasardLee5 karma

Panther, GE, It depends on cost--most are now looking to 5th Gen and beyond

Zenosans4 karma

Hey Hasard, what watch do you use/recommend for fighter pilots? (:

HasardLee7 karma

As a student, probably any digital watch so you don't have to think about it. I like analog watches because it's somewhat of a hobby.

Tchotchke_geddon3 karma

The lift fan.

How do you feel about it?

HasardLee5 karma

We don't have it in the F-35A. It seemed to not cause an issue when the marine ejected a few months ago.

DankVectorz3 karma

Which is most formidable foreign Air Force you’ve flown against and which is the most formidable foreign aircraft you’ve flown again? And if you feel like expanding on why I’d love to hear it.

HasardLee6 karma

Some of the best pilots I've flown with are the Dutch. They fly the F-35 so it's top-of-the-line. Mass matters, so how many jets you have is also very important.

DankVectorz3 karma

Interesting about the Dutch. As for the aircraft I should have specified foreign made* aircraft.

HasardLee7 karma

Probably the Eurofighter--it's a good 4+ Gen aircraft

CdnPoster3 karma

"I led pilots into combat" - how does that work? Are you the lead jet and all the others follow you?

Have you ever taken your jet home, a la that old Pepsi commercial, and Netflix series, "Pepsi, where's my jet???"

HasardLee4 karma

2 ways--you can lead them flying as a flight lead. You can also lead them on the ground as a commander or flight commander.

We do go cross-country occasionally for exercises or airshows. You can't just take it home through.

Jg3nius1233 karma

What plane would you like to fly other than the F16 and F35? And how long did it take to write your book?

HasardLee4 karma

F-22 and SR-71. It was a 6-year project, but the writing took about 2 years. I tried to put everything I could into a concise, easy-to-read book.

MissGlitchGirl3 karma

As someone who’s not particularly an aviation enthusiast, the description of your book still interests me, but what lessons would I learn by reading it? I love self development, but I’m weary about that potential disconnect.

HasardLee7 karma

The book has been well received by non-aviation enthusiasts. Decision-making is a universal skill that applies to everyone--whether you're a doctor, lawyer, teacher, student, or parent, the decisions we make are directly correlated to our success.

Most schools don't spend any time on a structured approach to decision-making. However, as fighter pilots, that's one of the primary focuses during our training.

Concepts such as Assess-Choose-Execute, Power Laws, Expected Value, and Fast Forecasting can be used in any situation. Give the book a read and if you don't like it I'll Venmo you your money back. Same for everyone.

If you're not a big reader, feel free to listen to the audiobook. I did all the reading and for the first time in history, parts were read while flying in a jet aircraft.

Appropriate_Drop85772 karma

What's your favorite/most memorable memory from when you were on active duty? Your videos are great by the way

HasardLee3 karma

Probably my first time in a fighter. Full afterburner takeoff in an F-16. It was the culmination of a 20-year dream and was a face-melting experience.


Any fighter jet known for it's seat, good or bad? I look at the different F-xx and they all have different seat. I know you guys can spend a long time in those plane.

HasardLee7 karma

Viper had a nice reclined seat. There's no room in there, though. I'm 6'2 and had to duck down to see through the Heads up display. F-35 has plenty of space so it's a lot more comfortable for me.

Alves_o_Craque2 karma

Do Viper pilots ever use the A/A master mode button in the ICP or always use the Missile Overide on the throttle? To my knowledge they do the same and one of them is right in your hand.

HasardLee2 karma

Generally, we want to do everything with the HOTAS (buttons on the stick and throttle). That allows us to fly the plane at the same time.

Western-Committee6492 karma

Saw your video where you were doing dogfights in DCS. Do you ever play it in your spare time just for fun and are the cockpits/switches 1:1 with real jets?

HasardLee3 karma

I don't have a great setup. Now that my book is launched, I may have some more time. I have to decide if the investment is worth it.

Riversntallbuildings2 karma

What are your thoughts on unmanned aerial vehicles?

HasardLee3 karma

Great tech that will make us far more effective. It won't fully replace manned fighters for a long time.

Riversntallbuildings2 karma

Besides battery tech & energy density, do you see any other challenges with electric aircraft?

HasardLee3 karma

That's a massive issue right there.

wessaid32 karma

What happens if you pass out in training? Are they super strict or do you have a few chances?

HasardLee7 karma

During centrifuge training, at least when I did it, you had 2 chances. If you failed it, you could try again the next day. If you failed that, you would be reallocated to tanker or transport aircraft.

neuromorph2 karma

How do you like Miramar?

HasardLee2 karma

I've never been

glowdemon12 karma

Is it true that flying these things will ruin your body and you will almost be handicapped after your career?

HasardLee5 karma

The sustained G-Forces over a career can cause a lot of neck and back issues. It's like being an athlete.

Objective_Land_28492 karma

Wow, your book sounds fascinating! As someone who often struggles with decision making, I'm looking forward to learning from your experiences and insights. Can you share a particularly memorable moment from one of your combat missions?

HasardLee2 karma

I've been amazed at how many people are enjoying and learning from the book. One that stands out from the book is when my base was attacked just before landing. I had to abort the landing and almost ran out of fuel.

Canam822 karma

Is the F-16 a better fighter than an f-35?

HasardLee5 karma

No, F-35 is far superior. It's 40 years newer and much more capable

mattviri2 karma

What has the USA done with the F-16? Are there any remaking or did they sell them to foreign countries?

HasardLee2 karma

We have a lot of them, and they're still flying on active-duty. They'll be around for decades. We've also sold a lot to foreign countries

voures2 karma

Any thoughts on the 388th FW?

HasardLee3 karma

Good group of pilots and very busy executing the mission. I trained and instructed quite a few pilots at Hill