Fire captain, parachute instructor finds his home at Air Force Academy
Story and photo by Jennifer Spradlin, Jan. 23, 2019
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Tyler Moran is exactly where he wants to be: serving as an enlisted parachute instructor and fire captain at the Air Force Academy.
He’d be the first to admit it wasn’t the easiest route, but that’s not really his style anyway.
“Growing up, I was always little, always the underdog, but I [overcame that] through wrestling and ending up as a state champion in high school and an All-American in college,” Moran said. “[And ever since], I have wanted to achieve at the highest level and see how far I could push myself.”
As a young man, he embraced a variety of adrenaline sports including mountain biking, back-country skiing and skydiving. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in global security and intelligence from Embry Riddle before going against his family’s wishes to enlist in the Air Force as a pararescueman.
“I had some friends who were pararescuemen, and it wasn’t that far removed from 9-11, and it just seemed like the quickest way into the fight,” Moran said.
Moran completed the 10-week pararescue indoctrination course but came up short during dive training. He reclassified into fire protection. It was a new way to channel his desire to help others in a setting that fit his outdoor lifestyle.
“Two weeks after being stationed [here], we went on a three-hour operation to help a woman who was stuck on a hillside way off the trail. Her blood sugar was pretty low and she was disoriented, but otherwise minor injuries, and [we helped her] and I thought this is where I want to be,” Moran said.
He transitioned through the Palace Chase program into the Air Force Reserve and worked as a Reserve firefighter at Peterson Air Force Base before becoming a civilian firefighter with the 10th Civil Engineering Squadron here.
In 2012, he was hired as an enlisted parachute instructor with the 70th Flying Training Squadron. The position merged his love for skydiving with his desire to mentor.
Moran, a technical sergeant, is primarily responsible for the training cadets require to become jumpmasters and skydiving instructors. He is certified to evaluate the cadets and other staff in the Airmanship Program.
“I love working with the cadets, they’re athletes, they’re smart, and they want to be there, and that makes them easier to train than normal skydiving students,” Moran said. “They’re just used to doing extraordinary things, and they carry that with them throughout their careers. I think that’s part of what makes the Academy unique: the opportunities here to excel and the fact that the cadets rise to the occasion.”
Kenneth Helgerson, Academy Fire Chief, said the entire community here benefits from the work and dedication Moran brings to his day-to-day operations. Between his two positions, instructor and fire captain of the flight line fire station, Moran is at the airfield four-to-five days a week.
“Tyler is an energetic, smart and capable leader,” Helgerson said. “He works hard to lead by example and stays involved in the diverse Academy mission.”
Moran said in a few years, he’d like to advance into an assistant fire chief position, but until then, he is right at home on the back of a truck with his crew or in the sky with the cadets.