Clark Kent had his phone booth. Air Force pilot Lyndsey Goodman transforms into her alter ego on the stage.
As a pilot with the 317th Airlift Squadron in the Air Force Reserves, Goodman flies half-million pound C17 Globetrotters everywhere from England to Iraq, carrying cargo, medical supplies, and troops. When she's not in the air wearing her standard-issue green flight suit, she dons a sexy dress and heels and transforms into a jazz-singing chanteuse.
"I almost think it's self-balancing because I grew up in the South, I grew up a Georgia girl, and I wasn't a huge tomboy or anything," Goodman says. "I think that sometimes that secondary outlet, the music, balances it out."
Goodman credits her grandfathers for her wide-ranging interests — one was an "amazing musician" in Nashville, while the other was a pilot in World War II. Goodman's father flew in Vietnam, and both men were also commercial pilots. Though Goodman studied political science and French at Vanderbilt University, it didn't take her long to pursue her private pilot's license after graduation. And singing in nightclubs turned out to be a convenient way to raise the money for that.
When Goodman was accepted into the reserves in 2004, she moved to Alabama to begin training. During the four years of intensive work, she says she never encountered any challenges being a woman in the typically male-dominated field.
"I've never really experienced it," she says of discrimination. "You fly with people long enough that you get to know them as people. You travel all over for weeks with the same crew, and they're just people."
Now she works part-time in the reserves, splitting her time between Atlanta and Charleston. Typically, she's in town for three months, then she's flying overseas. Sometimes she's in just a few times a month.
"It just kind of depends," Goodman says. "That's what's so great about it, is that you can do whatever else you're doing and still go in and put on the uniform and do your thing."
Over the years, Goodman has kept busy singing in her off time. She tried out for American Idol in 2008 (Simon Cowell said she was more cabaret than contemporary) and traveled the world singing for the troops with big-name acts like the Judds and Latin singer Melina Leon. She's also volunteered to perform benefit shows for military organizations like the Patriot Wing Foundation and the EOD Wounded Warrior Foundation. She's even helped out with non-military fundraisers for organizations like Trident Technical College.
"If I could do charity work like that as a profession, I think it would be awesome," Goodman says.
While Goodman regularly performs at such local venues as the Med Bistro, Red Drum Gastropub, and Torch, she's been delving into songwriting over the last several years, too — mainly with a jazzy focus but with a few country numbers as well (she says they're popular with the troops). She writes most of the songs for herself, but she has others in mind for some of them.
"I'd be very happy singing 70 percent of my own stuff that I've written; however, the other 30 percent is actually geared toward another voice," she says. "It just comes into your head. You write it ... That's just natural, that if you enjoy writing you can't always write it for yourself. You have to be open to someone else putting their mark on something that you've written. I think sometimes it's even better."
While there's a big divide between her two passions, she sometimes finds inspiration in the cockpit.
"One of the first songs that I wrote when I was in the reserves is based on the feeling that you get when you're at cruise altitude, cruising across the Atlantic, and you're bringing some of those guys back home," she says. "You go down in the cargo department and talk to some of them and they're so excited to get home, they're so ready, but they know that what they were doing was worthwhile. They know they were doing their job."
She's slowly piecing together her first album, which she hopes to release by next summer.
"It's a huge process, but it's definitely fun," she says. "It's neat to see it go from words on paper to sitting down at the keyboard and eventually getting into the studio."
And while she's moving toward original material, she still loves singing classic jazz songs — Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald are two of her favorite artists.
"When it comes to jazz," she says, "it's just really hard to not want to do the greats."
For more info on Lyndsey Goodman, visit myspace.com/LyndseyC17.