AUSTIN (KXAN) — A University of Texas at Austin alum and United States Air Force veteran is adding “published author” to his list of titles after releasing a book about his 20-year career late last year.
Houston native Lt. Col. David Dale grew up with a love of aviation, inspired by his uncle’s career as an Air Force fighter pilot. He began flying as a teenager before joining the Air Force ROTC at UT.
Following college, he went off to navigator school and then underwent pilot training, which led him to a career that included flying VIP missions out of Washington, D.C. and Tampa, Florida.
Lt. Col. Dale published his book “Ready For Takeoff: Stories From an Air Force Pilot” in October. He said he was inspired to share his own career story after reading another person’s memoir and reflecting on all the flight stories from his career.
He revisited logbooks for details on various trips, reconnecting with people from his career who were involved in those memories.
“The reconnection turned out to be one of the most fulfilling parts of the whole project — hearing back from friends from many years ago and getting their recollections of what had taken place,” he said.
What started as more of a career-based manuscript expanded into a recollection of his experience with family, friends and colleagues throughout the 20-year career. While there are many accounts of different flight missions, the book also reflects on hang gliding out near Llano, skydiving near Manor and two flights he took on a Navy aircraft carrier.
One of his favorite memories is the skydiving trip he took while a student at UT. Connecting with the two people he went skydiving with, he gathered their accounts of the memory and got to relive that snippet in time again. He said it also gives people outside the armed services an insight into life in the Air Force — one that, for him, included 11 moves and 16 houses within a 20-year timespan for Dale and his wife.
“A lot of people [included in his book] have felt like my book is a timestamp, a time capsule of their career as well,” he said. “I’m just the one that put it down on paper, but we all experienced the same missions, the same deployments serving our country.”
Since its release in late 2022, the book has sold more than 270 copies. So far, he said the reception has been well received.
Wrapping the book at the end of his military career, Lt. Col. Dale said he’s unsure if he’ll write another book down the road, given that the book encompasses much of his life from ages 16 to 42. But with a couple stories left off the pages, he said he’ll never say never.
His hope is that people who read the book take away one overarching message: to continue pursuing their dreams, even amid setbacks.
When he first went off to college, Lt. Col. Dale said his dream was to be an Air Force Thunderbird pilot and to serve as a space shuttle astronaut. After undergoing his first medical physical, with weak vision in one eye, his plans shifted.
But even with the change of course, Lt. Col. Dale said he still got to be on the front lines of history as it happened, from the Cold War and Desert Storm, to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and flying four-star wartime commanders following the Sept. 11 attacks.
“It turned out to be a very fulfilling career — it just wasn’t the career that I expected from the beginning,” he said. “So I would think that perseverance was one element of the book that was demonstrated.”