Christopher J. Spinelli
Graduate, U.S. Air Force Academy, Class of 1996
Engagements: • Operation Southern Watch (1992 - 2003)• Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) (2003 - 2011)
Christopher J. Spinelli
Christopher J. Spinelli was born on 15 February 1974 at Dyess AFB in Abilene, TX, the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Spinelli. He grew up in Richardson, TX, where he graduated from L.V. Berkner High School in 1992. Chris received an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO, where he graduated in the Class of 1996 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science.
After his commissioning as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force, his first assignment was Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) at Vance AFB, OK. While at Vance, Chris met and married his beautiful wife, Amy. Following pilot training, Chris was selected for F-16 replacement training in the 63rd Fighter Squadron “Panthers” at Luke AFB, AZ. In October 1998, he was transferred to Moody AFB, GA, to fly the F-16CG operationally with the 69th Fighter Squadron “Werewolves.” While at Moody AFB, he went on numerous deployments, including to Ahmed Al Jaber, Kuwait, for combat operations over Iraq in Operation Southern Watch. Two years later, in 2000, Chris transferred to Hill AFB, UT, as part of the 421st Fighter Squadron “Black Widows.” During this assignment, he upgraded to Instructor Pilot in the F-16CG and served as a Flight Commander for the last year of his assignment. In 2003, Chris was deployed to Al Udeid AB, Qatar, for Operation Iraqi Freedom where he again flew combat missions over Iraq.
In 2004, Captain Spinelli was competitively-selected for the combined Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) / USAF Test Pilot School (TPS) Program. He graduated from TPS as an Experimental Test Pilot in June 2006 and received his Master of Science degree in Computer Science in September 2006, after designing a unique differential GPS program. Following completion at AFIT / TPS, Chris was assigned to the 416th Flight Test Squadron “Skulls” at Edwards AFB, CA, where he flight-tested the F-16 and was part of the first Air Force Material Command (AFMC) unit ever to deploy in support of Red Flag.
After a short tour as the Air Force Flight Test Center Executive Officer for Major General (Ret) David J. Eichhorn [Honoree Record ID 309298], Major Spinelli moved to Capital Region where he worked in the Pentagon on the F-22 and F-35 programs as a member of the Secretary of the Air Force, Global Power Programs Directorate.
In 2010, Maj Spinelli returned to Edwards AFB to serve as the Director of Operations for the 416th Flight Test Squadron, leading daily test operations for the F-16. On 1 December 2010, Chris was promoted to the grade of Lieutenant Colonel. He was part of the second-ever AFMC unit to deploy in support of Red Flag in early 2012 where the Skulls performed a capstone test on the latest F-16 software.
On 15 June 2012, Lieutenant Colonel Spinelli assumed command of the 445th Flight Test Squadron, part of the 412th Operations Group, Air Force Materiel Command, at Edwards AFB. The squadron supports test programs by developing the criteria for flight test missions, executing flight test missions, analyzing data from the test flights and reporting on the results of the following aircraft: F-16, T-38 Talon, C-12 Huron and the KC-135 Stratotanker. The military personnel, government civilians, and contractors assigned to the 445th all work together as a team.
In January 2013, Lt Col Spinelli became the first Commander of the 445th Flight Test Squadron to become dual-qualified in the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the KC-135 Stratotanker. He is also one of only two known pilots in the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) to have this specific, unique dual-qualification.
Lt Col Spinelli relinquished command of the 445th Flight Test Squadron in June 2014 to attend Air War College (AWC) in residence. That is a year-long Senior Developmental Education (SDE) course at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, AL, that included students from all of the Services and multiple partner nations. On 21 May 2015, Lt Col Spinelli graduated from the Air War College with a Master of Science in Strategic Studies.
In July 2015, Lt Col Spinelli began his new assignment working in the F-35 Integration Office at the Pentagon, Washington, DC. The office is the single point of contact for all Air Force F-35A matters and priorities and is the Air Force’s primary conduit of senior leader information flow to the Joint Program Office. The Director of the small and specialized 12-person staff is Maj Gen Jeffery I. Harrigian [Honoree Record ID 308624], who reports directly to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CSAF), Gen Mark A. Welsh III [Honoree Record ID 857]. Lt Col Spinelli served as Chief of the Test Branch and the Integration Office's primary focus was on getting the F-35A (USAF version) to Initial Operational Capability (IOC), which occurred on 2 August 2016.
[Lt Col Spinelli spent approximately one (1) year at the Pentagon, which marked his second 1-year tour at the "Five Sided Puzzle Palace." MHOH is fairly certain that is a record, but it has no proof!]
From the Pentagon, Lt Col Spinelli was assigned to Edwards AFB, CA, working for Maj Gen David A. Harris. [Honoree Record ID 312776}, the Air Force Test Center Commander (AFTC/CC), as his Chief of Safety. The AFTC consists of three wings: 96th Test Wing (Eglin AFB, FL); 412th Test Wing (Edwards AFB); and Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC; Arnold AFB, TN). As the Chief of Safety, Col Spinelli relays safety information to Maj Gen Harris and provides oversight and policy guidance to the subordinate wings.
While at the Pentagon, Lt Col Spinelli was selected by the board for promotion to the rank of Colonel and he pinned on that rank in a ceremony at the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB on 1 March 2017.
Col Spinelli has been selected to take Command of the 412th Operations Group (412 OG/CC) in June 2017. It is a 2-year command tour and he will remain at Edwards AFB.
Chris enjoys many outdoor activities such as running, cycling and hiking. The Spinelli's are very active in their local congregation, the Rosamond Church of Christ. He is also a busy Dad, taking his boys to Trail Life USA events and hockey practice and games. Chris also assists wife Amy by taking his daughter to gymnastic practices and meets.
● 1996 - Bachelor of Science, Computer Science, U.S. Air Force Academy
Synopsis of Assignments
● Jun 92 - May 96: U.S. Air Force Academy Undergraduate Student, Cadet Squadron 31, USAFA, Colorado Springs, CO
Medals, Awards & Badges
Meritorious Service Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Dates of Promotion
Second Lieutenant: 29 May 1996
All information current as of April 2017
|Origin of Nickname/Handle:|
When Chris arrived at his first fighter squadron, the 69th FS "Werewolves" at Moody AFB, GA, he went through what is called Mission Qualification Training (MQT). Every new F-16 pilot goes through this upgrade training after they leave initial F-16 Training at Luke AFB, AZ to get trained in the specific mission of the unit they are assigned. During MQT, he had numerous missions where he did not launch a missile or drop a bomb. Some of those missions included a 4 vs. 4 against F-18s where he didn't shoot a single Air-to-Air missile. Chris also flew an Air-to-Ground mission where they took-off when it was still early morning/night and then flew until it was light outside to their intended simulated target. Unfortunately, he messed-up some of the avionics (specifically he left his HUD control in "Night" mode vs. changing it to "Day" mode and subsequently couldn't see his HUD symbology when the sun came up) and he was still too "green" in the F-16 to remember he could drop his bomb using the "flying W" on the multi-function displays (MFDs) and thus went through "dry" (didn't drop his bomb) and returned home with his simulated weapons. He is sure there was probably another occurrence of something similar on other MQT missions that escapes his memory now.
So during the naming ceremony Capt (now Lt Col) Christopher "Lude" Kibble dressed up like the late John Lennon and sang the very creative, custom-written 'Worm Naming Song' (see lyrics below) to the tune of the Beatles' "Yesterday." Worm actually stands for War Reserve Mode or War Reserve Material (WRM), but to make it easy to pronounce they decided to add the "o" and call him Worm. Basically, Chris said he was "saving" the missiles and the bombs for the next big war! You'll be happy to know that Chris has deployed to the desert twice since his MQT/naming and had no problem finding his targets and dropping his bombs on them!
'Worm Naming Song'
Guns Track Kill
O - R - I
During the O - R - E, Hostile Decs, Opportunities,
MMMM, MMMMM, MMMMMM, MMMMM, MMM MMM Hold Shot's!!
|Honoree ID: 210000||Created by: MHOH|