Lance Pilch to be inducted into CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame
June 25, 2007
Lance Pilch, a 1993 graduate of the Air Force Academy, will be inducted into the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame at the 20th annual induction banquet in San Diego, Calif., July 1. Pilch is joined in the Class of 2007 by Julie Foudy (Stanford University, class of 1993), Joe Girardi (Northwestern University, class of 1986), Dr. Amy (Sullivan) Nordmann (Washington University in St. Louis, class of 1994) and Steve Smith (Stanford University, class of 1980).
The five inductees will join 93 previous inductees since the CoSIDA Academic All-American Hall of Fame held its first induction in 1988. CoSIDA established the Hall of Fame to honor former college student-athletes who have excelled in their professions and made substantial contributions to their communities. To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, a candidate either had to be an Academic All-American team member who graduate at least 10 years ago, or fall into the honorary category, as was the case with Smith, a former All-America water polo player at Stanford.
Pilch is the sixth USAFA grad to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, joining Brock Strom, Rich Mayo, Chad Hennings, Michelle Johnson and Chris Howard. The Air Force Academy has more inductees into the Academic Hall of Fame than any other school.
A two-time Academic All-American (1992 and 1993), Pilch earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. He later earned a master's from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business in 2006 with high academic distinction.
A co-captain of the 1993 Falcon baseball team, he was a three-year letterwinner and two-year starter in the outfield. His 11 career triples are seventh in Air Force history. In 1992, he spent the majority of the season with a batting average over .400 and finished with a .361 average and a team-high 12 stolen bases. As a senior, he hit .315 and tied a then-school record with eight triples. That season, he also helped guide the team to a 28-22 record, the team's first winning season in nine years and a school record 21 home wins.
After graduating from the Academy, Pilch completed pilot training and began flying the F-16. He built an F-16 squadron from the ground up at Cannon AFB, N.M. In 1996 and 1997, he was named the best wingman and, in 1998, the best flight lead. He was the No. 1 graduate out of the Air Force Weapons School (like the movie Top Gun) in 2001 and was the worldwide No. 1 F-16 pilot in 2002. Pilch was one of only seven pilots in the world that was hand-selected to fly and teach in the Air Force's newest plane, the F-22. He was one of only three pilots in the world qualified to fly the F-16, F-15 and the F-22 and was chosen to brief the Air Force Chief of Staff on the $43 billion F-22 program in October 2003.
A major in the United States Air Force, Pilch has been selected for lieutenant colonel two years early. He has flown in combat in Iraq and has over 2,000 total flying hours. In 2003, he was chosen to be a part of the missing man fly-by for the Air Force Academy's retreat formation. In 2005, he led the Super Bowl 39 fly-by, the first ever joint fly-by between the F-22 and Navy aircraft. He has also been selected for several flyovers, including the 2007 Daytona 500. He is currently an F-22 pilot at Tyndall AFB, Fla., and supervises 170 military, contractors and civilians and over $30 million in assets. He built the F-22 squadron from the ground up.
Originally from Stockton, N.J., Pilch has been active in the community, speaking at numerous elementary and high schools about being an officer and pilot in the Air Force and the importance of education. He spoke to four classes at the Air Force Academy about being a fighter pilot and motivating future officers. Pilch was also selected to speak to the Air Force Academy cadets about the rules of engagement and the operational Air Force. He has organized several youth groups to tour Air Force bases and learn about the flight simulators and has also spent his free time organizing simulators for Air Force personnel who wanted to fly but never had the opportunity. Pilch has also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and with FOCUS HOPE, delivering food to needy families in inner-city Detroit.
"I am honored to represent the Air Force Academy and the United States Air Force in the Academic All-America Hall of Fame," Pilch said. "When you are part of a great team, individual awards take care of themselves. I was fortunate to be on the USAFA baseball team from 1991-1993, and it was a tremendous experience. I have seen similar teamwork throughout my career in the Air Force, epitomized by airmen willing to die for their country. Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a direct result of my teammates on the Air Force baseball team and my fellow airmen today."
Pilch and his wife, Junko, have two children, Samantha and Julie.
The class of 2007 includes:
Julie Foudy (Stanford University, class of 1993), a former five-year captain of the U.S. women's national soccer team who will be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame later this summer;
Joe Girardi (Northwestern University, class of 1986), a veteran of 15 years in the major leagues and the 2006 National League Manager of the Year;
Lance Pilch (U.S. Air Force Academy, class of 1993), a two-time Academic All-America baseball player at the Academy who is now a premier fighter jet pilot with more than 2,000 hours of flying time;
Dr. Amy (Sullivan) Nordmann (Washington University in St. Louis, class of 1994), a three-time Division III national champion in volleyball and now a radiologist specializing in Breast Imaging;
Steve Smith (Stanford University, class of 1980), an astronaut who is a veteran of four space flights and seven space walks.