(August 31, 2020) AIAA LA-LV Member Spotlight on Col. Mark Pestana

Mark Pestana
Pilot- Engineer-Artist
AIAA Senior Member

Mark Pestana, Colonel, USAF (ret), is a research pilot, aerospace human factors engineer, and consultant for NASA, DOD, and the FAA, and teaches aerospace safety as adjunct faculty at University of Southern California. He’s flown over 5000 hours in over 30 aircraft types, from heavy transport to supersonic jet. As an Air Force pilot he logged 213 combat intelligence sorties. He served as an operations engineer in the NASA Astronaut Office, working in Russia developing the International Space Station and Soyuz spacecraft training. As a NASA pilot at Edwards AFB, CA, he flew aeronautics research and global Earth science mission. Besides missions collecting data on supersonic boom impact characterization, and hurricanes, atmospheric chemistry, global forestry, etc., he flew remotely piloted “drone” research on self-avoidance technology, and wildfire geo-location missions. Mark is an internationally award-winning artist, specializing in landscape, seascape, and aerospace art. His paintings are in corporate, government, and private collections. Fourteen of his paintings are in the Pentagon collection, and one of his paintings hangs in the Russian Space Mission Control Center, Moscow. Mark has the unique distinction of designing nine Space Shuttle mission patches for the astronauts. His art is in space!

“I am captivated and inspired from the great explorers of land, sea, air and space. My early influences in aviation and sciences were my father, a USAF air crew member, and my science teachers who promoted hands-on experiences, like dissecting a shark and collecting rocks in the Sierra Nevada range. The pioneering flights of the X-15 test pilots and the astronauts who ventured to the Moon gave me inspiration to pursue a science and engineering path in education and career. Similarly, my childhood pastime of drawing and coloring evolved into a serious avocation thanks to the inspiration of famed aerospace artists, like Chesley Bonestell’s visions of planetary exploration, and the mentorship of Robert McCall and Keith Ferris. As a volunteer board member for a non-profit STEM outreach corporation, I promote the creative relationships between the art and engineering processes to inspire youth…the “STEAM” approach. I attempt to convey the inherent art and science behind the emotion, wonder, and excitement of these subjects, depicting themes in aviation, space, landscapes, and seascapes…on Earth and beyond.”

Col. Mark Pestana
Col. Mark Pestana and F-15
The Silent War by Col. Mark Pestana