Dustin Harrison was a week away from going home when he and two other Americans were killed when Al-Shabab extremists overran their base in Kenya on Sunday. (Facebook photo)

Dustin Harrison was seven days away from calling it quits as a private contractor, piloting a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air 350 with cameras and sensors for aerial survey. Then, on Sunday, al-Shabab Islamist extremists overran a key counterterror base in Kenya used by American forces. Harrison, 47, a 1990 Auburn High School graduate, was killed with two other Americans.

He had made his home in Tucson, Arizona, with his wife, Hope Harrison, and their 2-year-old daughter, Heaven Aviana.

"He was a special op. He had a pretty serious job," his wife said. "He was ISR — intelligencer, surveillance and reconnaissance."

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Way out in Nevada, the secret base from Independence Day — yes, Area 51 — is hiring a pilot for the only airline that flies direct to the secluded destination. Janet Air — as in “Just Another Non Existent Terminal” — flies a nondescript red-striped fleet of 737s from Las Vegas to various sandy, high-security government outposts where, as in Vegas, what goes on there stays there.

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The emergency landing of a B-1B Lancer bomber at Midland International Air Space Port in Midland County, Texas on May 1st reportedly involved heroic action on the part of the crew to save both the aircraft and a potentially stranded crewmember following a serious ejector seat malfunction.

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U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Tia Dufour

In the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, I led a Combat Reconnaissance Aircrew in an intelligence collection mission against North Korea. Before takeoff, I briefed my crew. “Keep your guard up,” I said. “We are facing an enemy that is still at war with the United States. They may think America is vulnerable right now, but that is why we are here. Treat every decision like your life depends on it.”

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U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Beth Holliker.

Enlisted airmen may be taking to the skies, and this time they’ll be in the pilot’s seat — for a little while, at least. The Air Force plans on launching an all-volunteer pilot training program on Feb. 15, 2018, that will include enlisted airmen as well as commissioned officers, Air Force Times reported Dec. 6.

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YouTube screenshot via The Mount Desert Islander

“Gear accountability” is a long-standing maxim in the military, and it was probably on the mind of one Marine attack-helicopter pilot when he made an unorthodox landing on Nov. 18 in a public park on Mount Desert Island, Maine, to pick up his lost cellphone.

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