Test Pilot and Crew Systems Integration, Lockheed Martin

photo of Glenn Hoppe in army fatigues


Lockheed Martin


Fort Worth, Texas

Job Title

Test Pilot and Crew Systems Integration

Why did you decide to pursue an aerospace engineering degree?

The NASA moon landing was a central memory from my early years and I was always drawn to aviation and all types of human flight. In addition, I have always had a desire to understand how things work...several times,my Dad would come home to find his truck in some state of disassembly. So, Aerospace Engineering seemed to be a natural fit for my "curiosity".

Please describe your position.

My position is expected to provide mature leadership and guidance in support of Lockheed Martin platforms to include; Pilot Vehicle Interface development, requirements development, subject matter expertise on performance and operational aspects of the platform, flight test planning & test card development and flight test execution and reporting of multiple programs.

What do you like most about your job? What do you find most challenging? 

I have a dream job! All I get to do all day is converse with exceptional discipline engineers about there expertise as it applies to the platform under test, help develop ground and flight tests to validate known behavior or explore areas that have difficult model behavior and then go fly and chase the test platform and report what I sensed. And get paid. My wife says all I do is sit around all day and except for the instances of being seated while maybe in a bit of a roller coaster state, she's absolutely right! The challenge of course is to validate the engineering that has some level of risk and perform the validation in a safe, controlled manner all the while being prepared to execute safe recovery for the inevitable unknown behavior. 

What are your career goals?

To continue flying well past retirement. And, take my grandson flying one day. 

Do you recommend any particular focus for students other than academics to improve themselves as potential candidates for jobs?

Flight control theory and Artificial Intelligence integration are both desirable focus areas for manned systems these days. I see commercial trans-sonic cruise platforms on the rise in the near future and hypersonics as well, so propulsive, heat transfer and structural dynamics disciplines will be required. 

Are there courses at UT you wish you had taken? If so, which ones and why?  

If I'd only completed one more 4hr math credit, I could have double majored in mathematics, although I think I turned out ok. But seriously, if I had paid more attention to Automatic Control Systems, I would not have had to constantly have the flight control engineers explain their methodology multiple times to me before I saw the light. 

Why did you choose one track over the other (atmospheric/space)? Do you feel this has made any difference in your career? 

In my day, an orbital mechanics class was a requirement but most of my interest was in atmospheric flight. So, given I'd made the decision to be a US Marine Corps aviator, the more I could learn about manned atmospheric platform engineering, the better I could understand what was going on in my aircraft.

Who was your most influential ASE, COE or EM professor and why?

I recall Dr Fowler and Dr Stearman quite well. I think they both barely tolerated me... 

What has been your most influential ASE, COE or EM course and why?

The fundamentals of aircraft design and Heat Transfer. One said fast jets couldn't hover and the other said transfer of jet engine exhaust heat and pressure required large distances or unnatural materials...I challenged both assumptions and flew the AV-8A, AV-8C and AV-8B for most of my career. Just because the book says it's impractical, doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't be done.

What is one piece of advice you have for our students?

Don't be afraid to work outside the box. Challenge entrenched engineering to always think broader. Don't forget, engineers build the world. 

Are you still working in the aerospace engineering field? If not, why?

Yes, and loving every day. Well, most every day.. 

Do you have a favorite memory as a UT ASE/EM student?

Graduation. I was so eager to leave the academic world and get my hands dirty.

List three things that most people don't know about you. 
  • I like to hum 70's music when I'm flying a stressful test. 
  • Do not ever challenge me for the last piece of rhubarb pie. 
  • I would rather be dove hunting than sit through another program brief.