Editor’s Note: Daniel (Dan) C. Schultz is President of Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company. In his role, he is responsible for leading the strategic growth and program execution of Sikorsky’s government and commercial rotorcraft platforms. Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps, as the program manager for the Joint V-22 Osprey Program, overseeing the program for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Special Operations Command. Given his lifetime of service both in and out of uniform, Veterans Advantage recognizes Schultz as a TopVet in April of 2020.
Where were you born and raised?
A: I grew up and spent most of my youth in Virginia Beach, VA. I went to Bayside High School in Virginia Beach.
When did you decide you wanted to be a helicopter pilot and that you wanted to serve?
A: When I was younger, I enjoyed spending all of my free time at the beach. As a matter of fact, for a long time I thought of becoming a professional surfer. I thought that’s what I wanted to do with my life. Until one day, I saw an early model 53 (Alpha) helicopter land on a field near me and my life forever changed. I saw this pilot open a window and told several people what to do and how to do it. Then he exited the aircraft with a flight suit and jacket, and I said to myself “surfing’s done, this is what I want to do.” But not only did I say I want to be a helicopter pilot, I wanted to be that Marine helicopter pilot. That's why I went to college. I focused on the Marines and specialized in helicopters and never looked back.
What makes the Marines unique compared to the other branches of service?
A: All the branches of the military share in friendly competition. We always joke that other services sing songs, but Marines have a hymn. There’s a saying that goes “Once a Marine, always a Marine,” and it is so true! Before we address ourselves as Colonels, Generals or Pilots, we always talk about being Marines first.
The comradery and respect among squadron members is like no other. The Marine Corps is rich in customs and traditions. Every year on the 10th of November, we celebrate the Marine Corps birthday. We wear our best uniforms and our wives attend the celebration as well. We have a tradition where we cut a birthday cake and we give the first piece to the guest of honor. And then we give the next piece to the oldest Marine present; I've been there where we've had Marines whom were over 100 years old. They then pass that next piece of cake to the youngest Marine present. Most of the time those younger Marines are about 17 years old. This symbolizes the passing down of the torch between generations.
Oh, and let’s not forget we're the only service that has its own sword, we carry our sword because of our warrior spirit. These are just some of reasons that distinguish the Marines from other branches of the service.
What are your hobbies and interests?
A: I enjoy playing golf, and I think I am halfway decent at it. I still enjoy flying and being around helicopters. One of the things I enjoy most is seeing how new technology impacts the battlefield. Witnessing our SB>1Defiant and RAIDER demonstration aircraft in West Palm Beach this past February gave me chills, for I know that I saw the future of helicopter aviation.
What does the future look like for Sikorsky?
A: We have a lot of aircraft to build with seven development programs all coming to fruition in the near future. The CH-53K is on the production line in Stratford, Combat Rescue helicopters are taking off, and more than that, our Future Vertical Lift technology will redefine the look and operation of modern military helicopters.