Former military pilot takes flight again
Former military pilot John Sieber thought he would never have the opportunity to fly a T-28A Trojan again. After all, it had been more than 65 years since he last took flight in his favorite airplane.
But then, through a mutual friend who owns a T-28A based out of Colorado Air and Space Port (formerly Front Range Airport), Sieber, now 88 years old, got the opportunity to once again take the controls and soar through the skies east of Denver.
“It was a thrill! We did a lot of aerobatics; loops, barrel rolls, Cuban [figure] eight, as well as other maneuvers” Sieber said following his flight. “The instructor let me fly for 30 minutes, and I loved it.”
And even though decades had passed since his last flight in a military airplane, Sieber experienced another pleasant surprise – his flight suit still fit him like a glove.
Following graduation from Penn State University in 1956, where he was enrolled in the Air Force ROTC program, Sieber entered active duty for three years, followed by five years in the reserves. He rose to the rank of captain.
While on active duty, Sieber flew the KC-97G air refueling tanker in the Strategic Air Command from Forbes AFB in Topeka, Kansas. The tour took him to the Azores, Newfoundland, England, Germany and Alaska.
“When not on specific missions, training flights or in the simulator, we spent time on alert status,” Sieber added. “This entailed scrambling to refuel B-47s returning from their missions that missed a scheduled refueling.”
Sieber said his military career moved him around a lot, from Pennsylvania to Texas (twice), Florida, Oklahoma and Kansas. He also traveled overseas to places like Spain, Finland, Russia, Japan and the Canary Islands for TDY (temporary duty) assignments.
After separating from the military, Sieber worked for General Electric before moving to Colorado in 1968 to pursue a career in real estate.
Sieber and his wife of 41 years, Selly, moved into The Village at Castle Pines in March 1982 – the very first residents in the community. They have five daughters, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren – with number four due in December.
Thankful for his success and as a way to give back, Sieber has been involved with many nonprofit organizations over the years. “I am ‘working’ on retiring and am down to two,” he joked. Sieber serves on the board of directors for Castle Rock Adventist Hospital and also the Arapahoe County Public Airport Authority (Centennial Airport). “Aviation will always be a part of me,” he said.
Although he has spent far more time as a civilian, Sieber said his time in the military was some of the best years of his life. He feels profoundly privileged to have been a pilot. Taking wing again after so many years away felt like “déjà vu,” he said. “It was phenomenal. It reminded me of how grateful I was to have been able to serve my country.”
By Chris Michlewicz; courtesy photos