The cockpit of a half-million-pound aircraft and a nightclub stage certainly seem worlds apart. Yet Lyndsey Goodman, BS’01, is at home in both. During the past decade, Capt. Goodman, an Air Force Reserve pilot who recently began flying for Delta Air Lines, has flown the massive C-17 Globemaster III into combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to Germany, Spain and Korea. During those years she also performed regularly at jazz nightclubs in Charleston and Atlanta.
“Flying and singing are completely different,” Goodman says. “But there’s an artistry to each of them.” For Goodman both passions run deep in her family. One grandfather was a self-taught pianist who wrote songs in Nashville as a young man. “The first song I remember him playing for me was ‘The Shadow of Your Smile,’” Goodman recalls. “He and my grandmother would always give me albums and tapes for Christmas and, later, when other kids were buying Madonna, I was buying jazz.”
Another grandfather was a World War II pilot, and his son, Goodman’s father, was a highly decorated pilot in the Vietnam War who later became a commercial airline pilot. “My mom also works for the airlines as a flight attendant,” Goodman says. “So it was hard for me not to fly.”
It was hard, too, for her not to sing. After graduating from Vanderbilt, Goodman paid for flying lessons by singing in clubs in her hometown of Atlanta. Once she had her pilot’s license, she joined the Reserves and became a pilot with the 317th Airlift Squadron at Charleston Air Force Base. She also formed the Lyndsey Goodman Trio, became a fixture in Charleston’s jazz scene and recorded two CDs. “There’s a release to singing, when everything is in sync and the group is working together,” Goodman says. “It’s kind of the same with flying when everything works and you’re in the moment.”
Like her flying, Goodman’s singing has taken her to some interesting places. In 2008 she entertained U.S. and Puerto Rican service members at Guantanamo Bay as part of the Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserves’ Caribbean tour. That same year Goodman auditioned for American Idol, making it through preliminary rounds and a televised round, and earning praise, although not an invitation to the finals. “I also opened for Wynonna and Naomi Judd at the 50th anniversary of Alaska Statehood at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, in 2008,” Goodman says. “That was incredible.”