into the NOAA Corps in October, 1976, and was assigned to
the NOAA Ship SURVEYOR based in Seattle, Washington. He served
as Deck Officer and Chief Helicopter Pilot aboard the ship
until 1980. Much of this time was in support of environmental
assessment in Alaska including marine mammal studies of ice
and harbor seals, sea lion rookeries, and walrus populations.
In 1980, he was reassigned to NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center
and continued flying in Alaska supporting seismic studies,
polar bear habitats, beluga whale migration, ice pack movement
and under-ice currents. Several of the studies made in the
early Eighties provided a baseline as he returned to Alaska
in 1987 to support NOAA's efforts in the response to the EXXON
Captain Christman relates, "Growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y.,
Alaska was just a place on the map, a million miles away.
Having the opportunity to fly there, especially considering
the hands-on marine mammal and polar bear programs was a once
in a lifetime experience. It's hard to describe seeing the
ocean end and the ice pack begin. The first few times I landed
to tag a seal pup, I simply couldn't comprehend that I was
actually standing in the middle of the ocean on a sheet of
ice only 2 feet thick."
In addition to his flying assignments, Captain Christman worked
in NOAA's Office of Budget and Finance; in 1992, he received
a Department of Commerce Fellowship and was assigned to the
staff of Congressman Leon Panetta, then Chairman of the House
Budget Committee. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in
Mathematics from West Texas University and an MBA degree from
Florida International University. Before his retirement in
1999, Captain Christman was assigned as Chief, Career Development
Division for the NOAA Corps.