Goodbye to All That

A gay Air Force pilot says the end of "Don't ask, don't tell" ushers in a new era for the military

Eric Ogden for TIME

It was nearly two decades ago that I stood transfixed, clenching a chain-link fence at the Kennedy Space Center, watching the shuttle Discovery rise on a column of flame. My uncle Blaine Hammond was at the controls. I had never felt so proud. As the ground shook underneath me, a single thought raced through my mind: I want to do that.

Last December I finally sat at the controls of an Air Force C-17 cargo plane. For the first time, I pushed the four throttle levers forward and accelerated down a long Oklahoma runway into the sky. Being a pilot in...

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