Talon II pilot recognized by Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer
  • 353rd Special Operations Group Public Affairs
As a child, he was inspired by meeting a commercial airline pilot as he walked down the aisle greeting passengers. At 15, he completed his first solo in an AT-6 Texan World War II trainer and went on to serve four years in the Civil Air Patrol. Now after nearly 24 years of service, he is being recognized for his accomplishments as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force.

Lt. Col. Alexander Neumann, 1st Special Operations Squadron, chief pilot, was presented a Master Air Pilot Certificate from the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators' based in London, England, during a banquet held Oct. 23 at the Guildhall in London.

"I know of none more deserving for this truly distinctive honor than Lt. Col. Alex Neumann," said Lt. Col. Mike Jackson, 1st SOS commander. "He is the consummate SOF professional and aviator. His over 7,000 flight hours, 2,400 combat hours and 23 Air Medals are really just a partial snapshot of his flying career and aerial achievement. The positive impact he's made on aircrews past and present, both in training and actual operations, are immeasurable and enduring. He's the guy you want at the controls for our nation's toughest missions."

Neumann's flying career began when he was selected as one of the first copilots for the MC-130H, Combat Talon II. From providing supplies to earthquake victims in Venezuela to assisting and advising the Philippines Air Force on air-land procedures and personnel drops, Neumann quickly established his home in the Talon II community, initially in the 1st Special Operations Squadron at Kadena.

"My first love is the Talon II," said Neumann. "I love flying with a large crew. I've been stationed here at Kadena twice and this is where I learned how to be the best crew member. I look most fondly at my time here at the 1st SOS."

Although Neumann felt an instant connection with the Talon II community, he couldn't pass up the opportunity to train foreign air forces. His next assignments challenged Neumann to become qualified in 15 different aircraft outside of the U.S. inventory often while also keeping currency in the Talon II.

"I flew a Russian An-2 and Talon on the same day," Neumann said. "Stepping from a tail dragging biplane to a C-130 tactical aircraft was a huge transition."

Now with 16 operational combat deployments and more than 1000 combat sorties under his belt, Neumann not only knows what it takes to be an Air Force Special Operations Command pilot, but he knows what it means to be a part of an AFSOC aircrew.

"I don't look at this as an individual award," Neumann said. "Pilots in AFSOC live and die by their crew. They are a weapons system. I have had the opportunity to meet some of the best crews in the world. I'm happy that I can bring some distinction to AFSOC and the 353rd SOG."

Established in 1929, the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators comprises professional and private pilots from around the world who support the education and training of pilots and navigators. The award, signed by His Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, is used to recognized pilots and navigators, civilian and military from various branches of professional flying who have distinguished themselves in their profession by consistently exceeding the standard in flying throughout their career.