F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE – A presence of achievement fills the room, with walls covered in patches and awards of all sorts. Lt. Col. Chris Picinni, 90th Operation Support Squadron director of operations has led a 20-year career within the ICBM enterprise, but never thought he would be leading the charge in planning an airshow for the USAF Thunderbirds.
It all started at a very early time in Picinni’s life, when his father served in the Air Force working electronic counter measures, during the Vietnam War, from then on, he knew the air force was right for him.
“Growing up with my dad enlisted in the Air Force, is what drove my desire to serve as well,” said Picinni. “His work on aircraft made me fall in love with the idea of flying and I had the goal of becoming a pilot.”
Soon after commissioning through ROTC in June 1999, Picinni’s plan to become a pilot was halted due to his vision not meeting Air Force standards.
“With my eyes not being quite good enough to fly, I ended up choosing missile operations and became a missileer.” Said Picinni
Picinni executed the primary mission of Air Force missileers from 2000 to 2004 when he moved between a few different duties before becoming a part of the Airborne Command Post on the U.S. Navy E6-B Mercury.
The ABNCP primarily functions as a communications relay platform for U.S. Navy submarines, it also serves as an Airborne Launch Control System. The ALCS is joint-manned by U.S. STRATCOM battle staff mission members from the Navy and Air Force.
“It took me 15 years in the Air Force to get the chance to fly, and it was on a Navy plane, but I made it,” said Picinni. “I served as the mission commander and was in charge of the battle staff for 4 years.”
When Picinni finished his tour with the E6B, he later moved to F.E. Warren AFB as the 90th OSS DO, where he was selected as the project officer for the annual Thunderbirds airshow during Cheyenne Frontier Days the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and wester festival.
“I was put up for this by Lt. Col. Christopher Maroney the former commander of OSS,” said Picinni. “He recommended me and from the looks of it, base leadership agreed with him that I was right for the job.”
2019 marks the first year in 25 years that the Thunderbirds will be flying in the skies above F.E. Warren, instead of the fields around Laramie County Community College.
“Air show planning is a very involved process,” said Picinni. “I’ve been working with people from all walks of Air Force life, from civil engineers and helicopter pilots to security forces and vehicle operators. Every person I’ve worked with as been vital to getting this airshow up and running, and I am grateful for their hard work.