Steve was born in Lansing Michigan in 1945, the eldest son of a US Army Air Corps B-24 Liberator navigator recently returned from World War II in the Pacific and the daughter of a prominent Michigan dairy farmer. As an Air Force ‘Brat’ he was destined to lead a nomadic lifestyle: he attended four different high schools, in Michigan, Germany, and England (x2) before graduating from a fifth in Annandale, Virginia in 1962.
He studied Business Administration at the University of South Carolina graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing in 1967. As a participating student in the University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps, he was also commissioned as an Air Force second lieutenant at graduation. At this point, business administration was left behind and Lt. Ladd was selected to attend USAF Undergraduate Pilot Training, a transition that was to lead him through a 28 year career, as outlined in his first book, ‘From F-4 Phantom to A-10 Warthog’. The reader can follow this evolution in the book and by clicking the ‘Patches’ tab in this webpage.
During this lifelong journey, there were many non-aviation milestones along with the career progression. In Madrid, in 1971, he met his bride-to-be Elaine Fisher. They were married in England in 1973. While serving in the NATO Staff at RAF Rheindahlen, Germany, then-Lt.Col. Ladd earned a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Science on a two year, alternate weekend course at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University’s overseas campus at Soesterburg Air Base, the Netherlands.
Steve’s Air Force career took him to the fabled ‘four corners of the globe’, from the USA to Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and in some cases, back again. His book is a fascinating chronicle of these travels.
Upon retirement from the USAF in 1994, Steve and his wife settled in the UK, first in East Anglia, then (and now) in Bristol.
He remained closely linked with aviation, inspecting aerodromes for the UK Civil Aviation Authority, then as Operations Director for the regional airport in Wales’ capitol city, Cardiff.
He then joined TBI, an Airport Owner and operator as Risk, Compliance, and Environmental Manager dealing with these programs at company airports in the US, UK, Sweden, Bolivia, Canada, and Costa Rica.
He re-established his ties with military aviation, when he joined Ascent Flight Training Ltd in Bristol, an organization created to provide a United Kingdom Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) for all three of the UK’s Armed Forces. Steve was selected as Fast Jet Curriculum Development Lead, managing a team of course development specialists in generating a comprehensive fast jet training package for RAF and Royal Navy components.
In addition to these ‘day jobs,’ Steve has remained active in academia as an adjunct Professor in Aviation Management for his alma mater, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
Now fully retired (excepting his recent authorship of ‘Phantom to Warthog’), Steve and his wife of 50 years now live in Bristol, England.