Michelle Evans oral history interview



Michelle Evans oral history interview


Born-digital video recording of an oral history with Michelle Evans and interviewer Sean Mobley, recorded as part of The Museum of Flight Oral History Program, October 31, 2022.


U.S. Air Force veteran and aviation author Michelle Evans is interviewed about her military and civilian careers and her experiences as a transgender woman. She discusses her service in the Air Force as a missile systems analyst, focusing in particular on her time at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington during the late 1970s and early 1980s. She then describes her post-military careers with National Technical Systems, INDEVCO, and Mach 25 Media, and as the author of the book The X-15 Rocket Plane: Flying the First Wings into Space. Throughout the interview, Evans discusses her journey as a transgender woman and how challenges related to her gender identity impacted her life.

Table Of Contents

Introduction and personal background -- Gender identity challenges -- Memories of the Moon Landing and X-15 program -- U.S. Air Force enlistment and training -- SRAM (Short-Range Attack Missile) assignment -- Military photography and art assignments -- Memorable friendships -- Gender identity and sexual orientation policies in the military -- Mount St. Helens eruption -- Leaving the Air Force and remembering Marvin -- Memorable moments in the Air Force -- Leaving the Air Force, continued -- Post-military career with National Technical Systems, INDEVCO, and Mach 25 Media -- Discussion about gender identity terms and perceptions -- Writing "The X-15 Rocket Plane" and experiences as a transgendered author -- Lecture series at the Air Force Academy -- Advice for future generations




1 recording (3 hr., 13 min., 28 sec.) : digital



Bibliographic Citation

The Museum of Flight Oral History Collection/The Museum of Flight





Biographical Text

Michelle Evans served in the United States Air Force and later had careers in various other industries. She experienced difficulties and setbacks as a transgender woman in industries dominated by men.

Born in 1955 in Upland, California to Patricia June and Robert Bryce Evans, Michelle Evans grew up largely in California. She attended about 18 months of high school in Colorado before graduating from Aviation High School in Redondo Beach, California. Her father worked for Sangamo Electric providing instrumentation tape recording systems to the aerospace industry. When only five years old Evans began going with him to Edwards Air Force Base where she spent time watching the North American X-15 flights and meeting the pilots and crew. This began her life-long passion for the aerospace business.

With few resources for college, Evans joined the U.S. Air Force in 1973, training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. She took basic and specialty electronics courses held at Chanute Air Force Base, Illinois, after which she was assigned to Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington. Her first four years there were focused on the Short Range Attack Missile system. Then she was reassigned to Missile Check-out, which she felt was a much less interesting job, motivating her to leave the service in December 1980.

After leaving the Air Force she declined an employment offer from the Boeing Company and moved back to her home state of California. Her first civilian position was at National Technical Systems (NTS) doing vibration, shock, and acoustic testing. A key component part of NTS testing was made by INDEVCO, which became Evan’s next employer, a relationship that extended for 11 years. After leaving INDEVCO, she worked for a year at another company as a technical writer after which she formed her own business, Mach 25 Media, in 1993. Her company produces articles and editorials for magazines, newsletters, and online web sites. Her website also showcases her photography, which ranges from photos taken with a Kodak Instamatic when first assigned to Fairchild, to NASA Space Shuttle launches, and other flight-related subjects. In juxtaposition to her aerospace photography are her modeling photos, which she began taking while living in Spokane.

In 2013 Evans authored the book The X-15 Rocket Plane, Flying the First Wings into Space. As of 2023, Evans continues to provide strong support and advocacy for the transgender community conducting monthly meetings in person and virtually under her TG Rainbow Support Group umbrella and through her YouTube channel.

Biographical information derived from interview and additional information provided by interviewee.