Big Safari US Air Force Program

#USAF #Aerospace #LMAG

Colonel Jerry Knotts (USAF, Ret) spent 13 years in the Big Safari Program flying operationally and performing on-site program management. In 1974, he was flying specially configured aircraft out of Wiesbaden, Germany and later was a program/project engineer assigned to two of the industry based detachments and responsible for programs at the third.

He managed over 10 major aircraft projects and had the pleasure of co-authoring the first Big Safari History with Colonel Pat O’Malley. Years later he was part of a team supporting Colonel Bill Grimes in the preparation of the second Big Safari History now being sold on Amazon.

The BIG SAFARI Program was started by the USAF in 1952 to enable the quick reaction, expedited management, acquisition, and logistical support for special aircraft / systems  Big Safari was limited to modifying and adapting existing aircraft and systems in support of significant operational needs.

Though the BIG SAFARI Program is still alive, this presentation will describe many of the special projects and the how the BIG SAFARI Program operated during the period 1964 – 1977.

“The BIG SAFARI acquisition and sustainment system employs the necessary flexibility to respond to high-priority, dynamic operational requirements for programs that involve a limited number of systems that require a rapid response to changes in the operational environment throughout the life of the system. BIG SAFARI focuses on acquiring, fielding, and sustaining key operational capabilities that otherwise would not be achievable or supportable in the required timeframe. Events and processes are tailored to meet the user's operational and schedule needs.” (Wikipedia)

  Date and Time




  • Date: 20 Jul 2023
  • Time: 06:30 PM to 08:30 PM
  • All times are (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)
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Online by Zoom 
Meeting ID: 956 4870 9501
Passcode: 060526

In Person at Hub101

  • 31416 Agoura Road
  • Westlake Village, California
  • United States 91361
  • Building: Hub101 - Cal Lutheran Center for Entrepreneurship
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  • Starts 10 July 2023 09:00 PM
  • Ends 20 July 2023 06:00 PM
  • All times are (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)
  • No Admission Charge


Jerry Knotts


Jerry Knotts served 24 years in the USAF. During that period, he flew clandestine reconnaissance missions in covertly configured aircraft in and around Germany, the Baltic Sea, Black Sea and Mediterranean areas. Later he flew 112 missions in North Vietnam/Laos as an F-105F Wild Weasel / Ryan Raider “Surface to Air Missile (SAM) Killer”. Then he was a member of the USAF Big Safari Program team.

Since retirement from the USAF, he has been a serial entrepreneur, coach, angel investor and has worked with numerous entrepreneurs for over 30 years. Over this period of time, he started five companies and mentored over 300 start-ups.

His previous executive positions included Vice-President/General Manager, Government Electronics Division, California Microwave Inc. (CMI), Woodland Hills, CA and Vice-President, American Nucleonics Corporation (ANC), Westlake Village, CA.

Jerry holds a BSEE (Electrical Engineering) from The Pennsylvania State University; and an MBA from Auburn University. In addition, he is a graduate of the Defense Acquisition University, Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College.

He is a Senior Life Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE); and Chairman, IEEE Buenaventura Life Member Affinity Group. Jerry is a pilot, licensed / registered Professional Engineer (PE) and life member of the Texas, California, and National Society of Professional Engineers. He is also a licensed Amateur Radio operator (K3ZZO).

Jerry has served as a Ventura County Airport Commissioner, and has served as a Lay Arbiter for the Ventura County Bar.


6:30 PM  Food and Networking at Hub101
7:00 PM  Talk