Commander Kristen Findlay

449: Fighter Pilot – What It Takes to Perform Under Pressure

Imagine what it takes to land an $80 million fighter jet on a moving target — in the middle of the ocean — at night.

The extreme precision, split-second timing, and unwavering focus required for such a feat are beyond the grasp of ordinary experience.

Our guest today, Commander Kristen Findlay (née Hansen), knows precisely what it takes to land an F/A-18 Super Hornet on an aircraft carrier – in rough seas and in the dark, where every decision can have monumental consequences.

Kristen is a distinguished Naval aviator whose career spans two decades of sustained high performance in military service. She’s accumulated over 2,700 hours of flight time, 66 combat sorties over Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, and just under 500 carrier landings. 

As a prior TOPGUN instructor  – yes, just like the movie – and current Commanding Officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 122 (The “Flying Eagles”) she leads and trains some of the Navy’s most elite pilots.

Kristen’s career experience now extends to Hollywood, where she served as a technical consultant and pilot for the hit film, “Top Gun: Maverick.” Epic.

Kristen offers a unique perspective on leadership, teamwork, and mental toughness. In this conversation you’ll hear valuable insights into high-stakes decision-making and the lessons we can all learn from a life lived at full throttle.

You never rise to an occasion. You fall back to your basic level of preparation.”

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