This week we spoke with Captain Jack Briody ’78, a commercial airline pilot and former Air Force pilot.
From the time he was a boy, Jack Briody knew that he wanted to become a pilot. “As a kid growing up, I had already been trying to plot my path on the best way to accomplish that,” says Briody. “I knew what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to fly, I knew I wanted to be in the military.”
He attended the University of Notre Dame on an Air Force ROTC scholarship, earning a BS in aerospace engineering before going on to serve in the Air Force, and eventually became a commercial pilot.
“I loved my time there [at university],” says Briody. “Looking back, I don’t think I could have performed the way I did if I did not attend CBA. CBA was a tool for me to actually survive there.”
Currently, Briody is with Atlas Air as a 747 pilot. He also serves with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a line check airman, a role that involves oversight, safety, and qualifying testing and training for pilots.
“I was an instructor in the military also, and the one thing that I always continually had to remind myself is that you need to be patient as an instructor,” says Briody. “A lot of pilots have an type-A personality, and that’s difficult to handle. I remember the days with the Brothers [at CBA]; they would let you fall and make mistakes, but they were there to pick you up.”
Briody plans on beginning a happy, relaxing retirement sometime during the next ten years, “Just as long as I have enough to support myself and my family, I’ll be a happy person,” he says.
Briody’s sentiments echo that of many an alumnus. “I miss the camaraderie,” he says. “In the military we had a certain camaraderie, but once you get into your career field—yeah, you’ll have your buds, but it’s not the same.”
Briody recalls how that camaraderie was in full effect in creating a memorable piece of Academy history, one which every student in the last twenty years is sure to remember. “The Beatles mural—that was our class,” says Briody. “But there were kids from all classes helping out. There was none of this ‘seniors are in charge and you’re a lowly freshman.’ Everyone was able to contribute, they did what they could to work together and get it up on the wall. It was a statement from seniors all the way down.”
The true impact of that experience has never left Briody. “I just feel really blessed,” he says. “That camaraderie, there is no substitute. How the brothers instilled it and have nurtured it over the decades since 1959, I don’t know, but they have some magic formula.”
He was reminded of that connection recently by a chance encounter that took place in Hong Kong. Briody working with his crew in the pre-dawn hours preparing for a flight to Anchorage, when a pilot he did not know approached to request a lift back to the U.S. When the pilot introduced himself as Ed O’Brien, the two quickly recognized one another as CBA classmates. “Thirty-seven years later, halfway around the world, in the middle of the night, here I run into a classmate,” recalls Briody. “It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can always run into a classmate from CBA.”
How the Academy Prepared Him
“From the moment when we stepped into Henderson Hall as freshmen, [the Brothers and the lay teachers] let us know that we could be proud of CBA,” he remembers. “Not in a boastful or conceited way, but that common thread allowed everyone in the school to contribute to what made it great. At CBA, we all had that common thread–that pride–running through us. We were all friends.”
It was that same understanding that Briody often returned to after graduating. “For me in my career as a military pilot and as a commercial pilot, and even with my family, it’s allowed me to see that no matter how big or small contributions people make, that little bit of pride allows everyone to contribute at any level.”
Keep In Touch
Briody is happy to speak with current students and alumni interested in aviation or his professional experience.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org