Skip to Main Navigation. Each navigation link will open a list of sub navigation links.

Skip to Main Content

Apply to the University of Wyoming apply now

Global Resource Navigation

Visit Campus
Download UW Viewbook
Give to UW
Contact Us

University Public Relations

1000 E University Ave

Dept. 3226, Bureau of Mines

Laramie, WY 82071


UW Profiles

From Football Star to Fighter Pilot

By Micaela Myers

Rich Peace, UW Football Alumni

This past fall, U.S. Air Force Major Rich Peace—an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, 100th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan—sent a video message shoutout to the Cowboy Nation that was

picked up by news outlets around Wyoming. Peace graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. During his time at UW, he played on the football and track teams, earning five letters. 

“I decided to join the Air Force after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001,” he says. “I went through a rigorous screening process and was ultimately accepted to pilot training.

“As a member of the Alabama Air National Guard, I have had the opportunity to live my dream flying fighters while simultaneously living my dream to help build jets. In my civilian life, I am a system integration and test engineer working on the F-22 and F-35 programs for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Air Combat Simulation in Marietta, Ga.”

Peace has served two deployments in Iraq and two in Afghanistan, as well as extended duty to Korea, Romania and Ukraine. Both of his parents also served in the Air Force, and his brother serves as a flight doctor in the Colorado Air National Guard.

“In November 2008 I flew over War Memorial Stadium for the 100th meeting between UW and Colorado State—a pretty great day for a former UW football and track athlete!” he says.

“I feel incredibly fortunate to be an F-16 pilot and I absolutely love flying the Viper. The F-16 is a fun airplane to fly, but it is a difficult aircraft to employ in a tactical or combat environment. Everything happens so fast that you have to be 15 or 20 seconds ahead of the jet at a minimum, or else you will find the world unraveling around you. The first major factor is that the F-16 is a single seat platform. That means I am the pilot, the navigator and the weapons systems officer. We have many different sensors on the jet, and if you don’t have a good system for using them, you will become inundated with information and won’t be able to accomplish the mission.”

Multitasking is a skill Peace began to hone at UW. “Juggling the demands of an engineering degree, playing football and running track was incredibly difficult.” He gives credit to UW’s dedicated professors for helping him succeed.

“The students, professors and my teammates made the experience one of the most amazing times of my life. I will never forget the late-night study sessions in the mechanical engineering lab or on the shop floor building my senior project. I will never forget walking out of the dark tunnel under the stands of War Memorial Stadium into the bright Wyoming sun to the cheers of thousands of fans.

“I have flown a MiG-21, MiG-29 and Su-27, all Russian built fighters. I have flown a single-seat F-16 over the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea. I have served our great nation in combat and fought for freedom. All these things have been made possible by the greatest university in the world! Go Pokes!”

One of the 10 Cowboy Ethics adopted by UW is “Ride for the brand.” Erin Hennings demonstrates this principle as a third-generation UW graduate who gave her all as a student and is now pursuing a challenging career.

*Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young/Released

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering is the broadest of all engineering disciplines. It deals with diverse engineering problems in mechanics of materials, fluid dynamics, heat transfer, energy conversion, vibration, design and manufacturing, materials science, and electromechanical systems, among others.

Wyoming Athletics

Competing at the NCAA Division I-A level and as a member of the Mountain West Conference, the Cowboys and Cowgirls regularly contest regional and national powers in basketball, cross-country, golf, soccer, swimming, track, tennis, volleyball, and wrestling.

Share This Page:

Contact Us

University Public Relations

1000 E University Ave

Dept. 3226, Bureau of Mines

Laramie, WY 82071


1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
UW Operators (307) 766-1121 | Contact Us | Download Adobe Reader

Twitter Icon Youtube Icon Instagram Icon Facebook Icon

Accreditation | Virtual Tour | Emergency Preparedness | Employment at UW | Gainful Employment | Privacy Policy | Harassment & Discrimination | Accessibility Accessibility information icon