“They told me I’d see the world, and I only saw five countries,” says Paul Koch, whose years in the air force sent him to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait (with side trips to Syria and Iraq) before he returned to his home state to earn an engineering degree at the University of Illinois. Then it was off to New York, where the pilot pursued his other great fascination: fashion. While working in marketing and sales for a New York–based designer, he also walked the runways and posed for editorial spreads and clothing ads. Now Koch is back in the Midwest, buckling down to a career in aerospace defense consulting and living the single life in Old Town. He still flies on nice days, taking to the sky with friends who have never experienced the thrill of being in a small aircraft. “Everyone who goes up gets an introductory flight lesson,” he says.
Photograph: Maria Ponce