I grew up in Seattle, Washington, and lived there for most of my life until I was 27. I was raised in a large family with 12 brothers and sisters (it was kind of an “ours, yours, mine, and theirs” arrangement), and I was the 5th oldest. It was a crowded house, but I learned a lot of really valuable lessons growing up about goal setting and frugality.
I graduated from Rainier Beach High School in Seattle in 1992, and in 2004 I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In 2011 I also earned a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
From 1993-1995 I served a mission in St. Petersburg, Russia for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During this time I developed a great appreciation for the opportunities that I received growing up, and I cultivated a genuine passion for learning.
After returning to the U.S. I set out to pursue my lifelong ambition of becoming a pilot. To avoid going into debt I juggled flight training with attending school and working full time. My progress was slow, but I persisted and acquired my private pilot’s license in 1997 and gradually added other certificates and ratings over the course of several years. I passed the test for my flight instructor certificate in August of 2001, just two weeks before 9/11. In the fallout of that tragedy it was nearly impossible to find work anywhere as a flight instructor, but I was fortunate to find a job at a small airport in western Massachusetts. I packed my family into our little Ford Escort and drove across the country, beginning a wild goose chase of pursuing work as a pilot.
In 1999 I had asked a gorgeous young lady if she would like to go to dinner with me. When she agreed, my response was, “Great! How much do you weigh?” Despite the rough flight in a small airplane I didn’t scare her off, and in 2000 we were married. During the first five years we were married we lived in eleven different homes, but we finally settled down in Utah in 2007. We have four beautiful daughters, and being their father is truly the greatest adventure of my life- I never know what’s going to happen next!
I currrently work as a pilot flying a Embraer Regional Jet for a large U.S. regional airline. I’ve been with this company since 2011, and prior to that I had pilot jobs flying air ambulance, freight, air taxi, and flight instructing. I have accumulated about 11,000 hours of flight experience, and I truly love the work that I do! My favorite aspects of the job are serving my passengers (I like to say that I’m in the business of changing people’s lives), and the chance to help mentor other pilots and to learn from them as well. Every day is a learning opportunity.
I have several hobbies and interests, but since most of my attention these days is directed at my plan for going to Mars I try to focus on those things that can contribute to that goal. I was on the cross country and track teams when I was in high school, and I’ve loved running ever since. The last few years I’ve used running as a way to get in shape for hunting in the high mountains of Utah, but now I use both activities to prepare me for the physical challenges I expect to face on Mars. I have also loved to read ever since I was in first grade. Although I do enjoy a good action thriller, these days my reading primarily consists of non-fiction: personal development, biographies, history, and technical texts. I love to learn, and I feel like that’s the most wonderful fringe benefit of having ridiculously huge dreams! Apart from those hobbies, I love to dabble and try new things. If I don’t know how to do something, I’ll usually just make it up and try to figure it out as I go. I guess you could say that I’m kind of an aspiring Renaissance man.
So that’s Lee Roberts in a nut shell. I tried to avoid the year-by-year life story so the mundane details are omitted, but if anyone has specific questions for me, please feel free to ask.