Lorry Faber & John Jeffers
Pilots, FAA Flight Program Operations
By Paul Cianciolo, FAA Safety Briefing Magazine Associate Editor
Two pilots, both alike in dignity;
In fair airspace, where we lay our scene;
From polar ends, a call out of flight check;
Where civil servants make safe the skyways ….
Okay, don’t worry — we’re not talking about Shakespeare plays here. Rather, we are meeting two exceptional pilots who manage teams critical to keeping our airspace safe.
Let’s start our story with Lorry Faber, the current chief pilot for the FAA’s Flight Program Operations. She started in high school with a front-seat airplane ride.
“I was fascinated seeing the world in 3D,” Lorry said. “In that moment I learned there was an exciting and exclusive club privileged to see the world from a different perspective. I wanted in!”
Lorry got in through the military. Flying mostly helicopters, her career spanned the regular, guard, and reserve components of the Air Force before retiring. While flying with the Alaska Air National Guard, she was paired with a pilot who worked full-time with the FAA’s Anchorage Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). This pairing propelled Lorry to her next opportunity.
In 1998, Lorry joined the FAA, working in aircraft certification and flight testing at the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City. She regularly flies for currency with her airline transport pilot (ATP) and rotorcraft flight instructor certificates.
“I am very lucky to have a career that values my ability to fly,” she notes. “My FAA work is about serving the GA community. From testing, implementing, and inspecting GPS approaches to improvements like LED lighting, my team and I have touched the lives of many GA pilots to ensure their world is safe and their concerns are heard.”
Next we take you to a farm in Georgia. This is where John “J.D.” Jeffers, Jr., manager of the Western Pacific Flight Operations Team that oversees teams out of Sacramento International Airport and throughout Alaska, first got hooked on aviation.
“I watched crop dusters perform an airborne ballet spraying a field of cotton,” J.D. said. “I was mesmerized by how gracefully they flew at low altitude while missing towers and power lines.” He was also inspired by local WWII pilots through personal interactions.
J.D. started flying at an early age. He owned and flew a Piper J-3 Cub around the state, stopping at every pancake breakfast and hamburger cookout he found. Building flight hours provided opportunities to move into larger, more complex aircraft.
To finance his “fun flying,” J.D. became an FAA air traffic controller. “I loved ATC and the people I worked with,” he notes. “It was exciting, dynamic work, and I flew on my off days.”
One random day, an FAA “flight check” crew landed for fuel and lunch. J.D. and other controllers departing after a shift change took the crew to lunch. Conversation led to the realization that J.D. had the right qualifications, and J.D. has spent the last 20 years flying flight inspections. He now lives and flies in Alaska.
Two pilots, two stories — one piece of advice from both.
When you hear “flight check” on the radio, take heed;
Go hence, to have more talk of these great deeds;
When flight check is in the air, do not despair;
Strange maneuvers fly forth, fly safe, stay calm;
Avoid the area, we’re almost done.
Paul Cianciolo is an associate editor and the social media lead for FAA Safety Briefing. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran, and an auxiliary airman with Civil Air Patrol