An Air Force pilot sitting in the cockpit of a military aircraft.

MTN Staff Spotlight – Kelly Timmermann

(Last Updated On: April 11, 2024)
An Air Force pilot sitting in the cockpit of a military aircraft.

Kelly Timmermann can fly. She’s a Corporate Pilot PIC I for Midwest Transplant Network. Her career began as an Air Force pilot and she retired as Lt. Col. Timmermann in late 2023.

March is Women’s History Month, designated by presidential proclamation in 1980. Now, Women’s History Month is an annual observance to highlight the achievements, contributions, influence and impact of women.

Midwest Transplant Network recognizes and celebrates the diversity of our staff. We appreciate sharing the stories of staff who represent different experiences that positively impact our culture and mission.

Kelly Timmermann, Corporate Pilot PIC I

Kelly Timmermann can fly. From the Air Force to Midwest Transplant Network, her career as a pilot has taken her around the world and across the country. In late 2023, Lt. Col. Timmermann retired from the Air Force after 23 years as a pilot, having experienced 13 deployments and 1,940 combat hours. She joined MTN in 2022 as a Corporate Pilot PIC I, responsible for transporting teams to cases in the mission of saving and enhancing lives through organ, eye and tissue donation.

In 50 words or less, explain your job in the Air Force like you’re talking to someone without a military background.

I began my Air Force journey as an intelligence analyst. After two years, I switched my career path to become a pilot. I primarily flew an air refueling airplane, the KC-135. But I also had the opportunity to fly distinguished passengers in the Gulfstream IV and Gulfstream V aircraft, with many leadership roles along the way.

What influence did female mentors, role models or colleagues have on your military service, education or life in general?

Most of my superiors, mentors and colleagues were men. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities and leadership over the years. But you asked about women, and my very best friendships have been amazing women – family, Air Force friends, and high school friends. I’ve had a solid support network, sounding board, and sometimes a good kick in the pants (when warranted) from my ladies. Having someone invest in your success whole-heartedly is validating and empowering. I owe my success to those who believed in me.

March is Women’s History Month. What does it mean to you to have had a successful career as a pilot in the Air Force?

I am proud that I was able to choose a path in the Air Force that allowed me both professional and personal progression. Professionals of all backgrounds face difficult decisions to balance family and work-life. Women have the added consideration of bearing children. Choosing to be an Air Force pilot was one of the biggest decisions of my life. I knew it would mean frequent travel and moving, and I knew it was possible I would do it alone. It’s tough to meet people when you’re not in a place that’s home. I’m a little amazed and grateful that I was able to navigate a career, have a family and meet my goals as a pilot, but I did it!

What motivated you to become a pilot? What kept you motivated?

I didn’t consider a pilot career until I was in the Air Force. I knew it was a marketable skill and I was fascinated to find a professional path that would give me an office in an airplane! I’ve always been aware of long-term stability and choosing a job was another item for consideration. There is a huge need for pilots, and that equates to long-term stability. As for motivation, that’s the only way I know how to do things…to be motivated.

Where’d you train to become a pilot?

I trained for my private pilot’s license at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. My Air Force Undergraduate Pilot training was at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas.

What’s your advice to women who want to pursue aviation?

Make it happen. If you are willing to work for it, it is achievable!

If your career imitated a movie, which movie would it be?

I couldn’t find one about determination and persistence without a heartbreaking tragedy to overcome. Haha!

If you hadn’t become a pilot, what would you have done for your career?

I do not know! I narrowed it down to psychology and counseling but was also interested in the medical field. See? Varied interests make it tough to decide, so why not fly?

A mother and two children gather around a cake with a sparkling candle.

Kelly Timmermann and her children are smiling in excitement at a sparkling candle in the center of a small cake.

Now that you’ve retired from the Air Force, do you have a retirement bucket list? What’s one thing you’d share from your list?

My husband is still in the Air Force, so we will make a bucket list when it is his time to retire. However, the short-term benefit is I only have one job, instead of a second job with the Air Force Reserve, and I spend the extra time with my two awesome kiddos.


From your perspective, how does your role at Midwest Transplant Network impact organ donation and transplantation?

We give MTN the ability to have someone spend an hour of travel instead of four hours of travel at the beginning and the end of a 24-hour shift. This is essential! I feel directly connected to perpetuating this awesome mission because the airplane helps lower attrition. Additionally, being able to take a team to an OR and then bring them home cuts a lot of stress and work from logistics planning. I know our staff are appreciative when the airplane is available to relieve the burden of travel and we are happy to be part of the mission.


What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned about organ donation?

I was not familiar with organ donation at all, except that you’re asked the question at the DMV about becoming an organ donor. Learning about the process has helped me to stress to my family and friends how important it is to make your decision known for organ donation. It makes a difference and alleviates family stress when the worst happens.


Where are you from?

Salisbury, Missouri.


It’s March Madness! You’re hosting a Women’s Final Four Championship party. What snacks are you serving?

I’m serving hot wings, guac and chips, pizza, and everybody brings a favorite. Sharing is caring!

A large U.S. Air Force plane.

Kelly Timmermann poses in front of a U.S. Air Force plane.

A woman wearing a black ball cap that reads Afghanistan Veteran.

Lt. Col. Kelly Timmermann retired from the U.S. Air Force after a 23-year career as a pilot.