New leader in charge at Edwards AFB
Former test pilot assumes command of 412th Wing
EDWARDS AFB — A familiar face took the helm Wednesday at Edwards Air Force Base as a recent commandant of the Air Force Test Pilot School accepted command of the 412th Test Wing, which oversees the base known for testing the nation’s aerial arsenal.
Col. Matthew Higer takes over from the departing Brig. Gen. E. John “Dragon” Teichert, who had commanded the test wing since July 2018 and is moving on to a new assignment as senior defense official and defense attaché-Iraq at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
It was a handoff between two friends, as Higer and Teichert had been Test Pilot School classmates in 2003.
Higer returned to lead the school for a year in 2017.
“This wing is in the best of hands,” Teichert said. “I look forward to seeing this organization thrive under his leadership.”
“I am literally psyched to follow in your footsteps,” Higer told Teichert. “Your excitement for change and innovation will live on in my command.”
“It is also an honor to be selected to command the wing that has the sacred American mission of teaching test fundamentals, like world-class risk management and adaptive test solutions to the next generation of test professionals,” Higer said.
Higer is only the second former Test Pilot School commandant to lead the test wing in nearly 20 years. The last commandant to go on to command the 412th Test Wing was Col. Steven Cameron, who assumed command in March 2001.
Higer proudly touts his Test Pilot School connection. Traditionally, the wing commander has his flagship plane, which bears his name beneath the cockpit. Higer’s flagship is the Test Pilot School’s VISTA, a highly modified F-16 that can mimic the characteristics of a number of other aircraft.
“She’s a beautiful example of innovation, as well and has been for more than two decades,” he said. “Before innovation was a popular term, VISTA was doing crazy and exciting things and I think it’s still a beacon of how we can work together in the future.”
During his tenure, Teichert took to calling Edwards and the surrounding Aerospace Valley “The Center of the Aerospace Testing Universe.”
While some may consider that a bold statement, he said: “It is bold because our nation needs us to mold and shape America’s aerospace arsenal. It is bold because our nation’s leaders need us here to ensure a focus relentless on the warfighter and relentless impact on our national security.”
Higer plans to continue with the designation, although in true military form, he turned it into an acronym: TCOTATU, pronounced tee-cot-a-too.
“It is truly an honor to be your commander,” he said. “Our nation has never needed us more and I am beyond-description excited to be your biggest fan and supporter.”
Both commanders demonstrated that Air Force leadership is a family affair, thanking their wives and children for their roles in serving the base community, as well.
Maj. Gen. Christopher Azzano, commander of the Air Force Test Center, led the change of command ceremony for the test wing, which he called “the stewards of America’s pioneering spirit.”
“Today we’re celebrating the 412th Test Wing and all that you do to preserve America’s freedom and to build its arsenal, enabled by talented leaders who have met their nation’s challenge to command,” Azzano said.
“Command of an American military unit is one of the greatest privileges our nation can bestow and a tremendous responsibility,” Azzano said. “It demands integrity, leadership, sacrifice, putting the needs of your mission and your people above your own.
By these standards, Gen. Teichert has distinguished himself as one of the elite leaders in our Air Force.
“His wing owns the skies over the Mojave Desert. They execute a challenging test mission with global impact and support this installation while developing leaders and stewards of the profession of ours.”
Azzano said this makes the third time he has served with Higer, “and I can tell you his true calling is to lead complex teams of talented, technical people in performing the near impossible, which is perfect for the 412th Test Wing.”
The 412th Test Wing’s new commander, Col. Matthew Higer (center), assumes command of the wing by receiving the unit guidon from Maj. Gen. Christopher Azzano, Air Force Test Center Commander (left) during Wednesday’s Change of Command ceremony at Edwards Air Force Base. Departing Wing Commander Brig. Gen. E. John Teichert is at right.
A large crowd of base personnel and community leaders gathered Wednesday at Edwards Air Force Base as departing 412th Test Wing Commander Brig. Gen. E. John Teichert turned over command to Col. Matthew Higer.