On "A Wing and a Prayer"
PROVO, Utah – Aug 25, 2022 – As a teenage boy, C. Todd Linton fell in love with the airplanes that flew overhead near his home next to the old Denver Stapleton Airport. He spent hours learning and memorizing details of each model. This love eventually led him to a lifelong career as a pilot, which started at the BYU Air Force ROTC (AFROTC), hosted by the Department of Aerospace Studies at the BYU Marriott School of Business.
Upon graduating from Air Academy High School in 1990, Linton considered his options for college. He originally planned to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He even paid a visit to the prestigious Academy campus. However, his visit fell during the cadet’s rigorous initial training week and two things stuck out in his young mind. “Number one,” he says, “nobody smiled. And number two, I couldn’t see many girls around. Those two observations had a profound effect on my young mind and made my future college decision easier.”
He decided to attend BYU and participate in the AFROTC program. While attending BYU, Linton dated and married his wife, Chalon. With his wife’s support, Linton pursued a career as a pilot in the United States Air Force. Chalon’s grandfather had established a long, distinguished career as a fighter pilot and encouraged Linton to pursue his dream of becoming one as well. “Once I landed on good terms with him, the whole family fell in line to support. I got incredibly lucky,” he says.
Not long after Linton graduated in geography from BYU in 1998, he and Chalon reported to Laughlin Air Force base in Del Rio, Texas. During the medical prescreening at pilot training, Linton faced several setbacks. He struggled with color perception and hearing loss, making it difficult to pass certain exams. These challenges planted doubt in his mind about his ability to move forward with his career as a pilot.
However, one lesson he had learned from his time in the AFROTC at BYU was essentially letting God prevail. “Sometimes we’re unable to see the Lord’s hand until later,” Linton shares. “BYU gave me a spiritual foundation and the ability to recognize His hand in everything I went through. I trusted that in His own due time, He would help me.”
Despite those early setbacks, Linton has enjoyed a lifelong career as a pilot. He flew the venerable C-130 Hercules, a tactical airlift plane renowned for its ability to airdrop equipment and paratroopers behind enemy lines and operate out of austere locations. Flying more than 500 combat hours in Afghanistan, Iraq, Horn of Africa and the Balkans, Linton always flew “on a wing and a prayer.” He was grateful the Lord kept him safe, even while taking off and landing from riverbeds and fields deep within enemy territory during his 10 years of service with the United States Air Force.
After an assignment in Germany, where he had served as a missionary for the church a decade earlier, he joined the California Air National Guard, flying reconnaissance and strike missions until he retired from the military as a vice wing commander. Now, some 24 years after starting his Air Force journey, Linton is the director of military relations and chaplain services for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City.
In this role, he works to support members of the Church who are serving in the armed forces and their families as well as chaplains and their families. He is the ecclesiastical endorser for all Latter-day Saint chaplains. In addition to supporting chaplains and military members and their families, Linton also cherishes his roles as husband and father of four children, three of which have attended BYU.
While balancing all these roles and overcoming personal trials, Linton never gave up on his dreams. He found that God placed specific people—doctors, professionals, and bishops—in his life to help him during the most critical moments of his career.
“Trust in the Lord” Linton declares. “The countless ways that He comes into our lives and opens so many doors truly amazes me. We just need to exercise faith and get through this life on a wing and a prayer, for God truly prevails!”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sophia Shafkalis