Hurlburt CV-22 pilot may take mission to Mars

Maj. Nick Noreus, 8th Special Operations Squadron CV-22 Osprey pilot, applied for a one-way ticket to Mars. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

Maj. Nick Noreus, 8th Special Operations Squadron CV-22 Osprey pilot, applied for a one-way ticket to Mars. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

Maj. Nick Noreus, 8th Special Operations Squadron CV-22 Osprey pilot, exits an aircraft on Hurlburt Field, Fla., June 4, 2014. Pilots and aircrew members train day and night to ensure accuracy and maintain their certifications. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

Maj. Nick Noreus, 8th Special Operations Squadron CV-22 Osprey pilot, exits an aircraft on Hurlburt Field, Fla., June 4, 2014. Pilots and aircrew members train day and night to ensure accuracy and maintain their certifications. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

Maj. Nick Noreus, 8th Special Operations Squadron CV-22 Osprey pilot, operates a CV-22 Osprey on Hurlburt Field, Fla., June 4, 2014. Noreus and his crew returned to Hurlburt Field after a successful training mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

Maj. Nick Noreus, 8th Special Operations Squadron CV-22 Osprey pilot, operates a CV-22 Osprey on Hurlburt Field, Fla., June 4, 2014. Noreus and his crew returned to Hurlburt Field after a successful training mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

Maj. Nick Noreus, 8th Special Operations Squadron CV-22 Osprey pilot, walks on the flightline at Hurlburt Field, Fla., March 3, 2014. Noreus said he is hopeful that his training and experience will make him a prime candidate to go to Mars. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

Maj. Nick Noreus, 8th Special Operations Squadron CV-22 Osprey pilot, walks on the flightline at Hurlburt Field, Fla., March 3, 2014. Noreus said he is hopeful that his training and experience will make him a prime candidate to go to Mars. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

Maj. Nick Noreus, 8th Special Operations Squadron CV-22 Osprey pilot, looks through a wall of equipment in Destin, Fla., Jan. 24, 2014. Noreus's projects are housed in a storage area and include a race car that he built, gyro-plane ultralight, and another two-passenger gyroplane he's building. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

Maj. Nick Noreus, 8th Special Operations Squadron CV-22 Osprey pilot, looks through a wall of equipment in Destin, Fla., Jan. 24, 2014. Noreus's projects are housed in a storage area and include a race car that he built, gyro-plane ultralight, and another two-passenger gyroplane he's building. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. John Bainter)

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Pilot, inventor, potential Martian, and mustache aficionado are just a few of the words to describe one Air Commando at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

Maj. Nick Noreus, 8th Special Operations Squadron CV-22 Osprey pilot, is a man on a mission with high hopes of being one of the first humans on the planet Mars.

"I can't remember a day I didn't want to fly," said Noreus. "I wanted to be a pilot since I knew they existed, and military pilots are the best pilots."

In addition to the Osprey, Noreus said his desire to patrol the skies has put him in the pilot seat of a Cesna T-37, Bell UH-1H , UH-1N, and Mil MI-17 helicopter. Out of all the aircraft he's flown, he said his favorites are the Osprey and his personal gyroplane ultra-light.

"I have a tiny little gyro and that's pretty fun," said Noreus. "When I'm sitting in the seat there's nothing around me, there's no plexiglass, no windshield, so when I'm flying it it's like I'm flying through the air with my face."

Noreus said it's his love for flight and his inventive nature that is leading him to pursue an even greater challenge -- a one-way trip to Mars.

"I ended up applying right at the last minute," he said. "As the date got closer, I started feeling like I would regret it for the rest of my life if I didn't at least try."

Noreus said his Air Force training makes him a prime contender to venture into outer space.

"I think at the heart of this mission to be successful, it comes down to working as a crew," he said." And in the Air Force, you have to be good at adapting, and that's what they train us to do."

When some crewmembers heard about a pilot applying to go to mars, laughter was the first natural reaction.

"I heard about an Osprey pilot applying to go to Mars and thought it was funny at first," said Tech. Sgt. Edilberto Malave, 8th SOS flight engineer. "Once I found out this was a real mission, I felt that [Noreus] was the perfect person to go to Mars.

"Everyone is curious about what's up there and how far the human race can go," Malave continued. "Maybe we can colonize other planets, but first we have to try; Noreus has my vote on this, I hope they let him take that mustache to Mars."

Noreus said he hopes this mission will re-invigorate the spirit of civilization.

"I think this gives us the chance to think of ourselves as one humanity," he said. "I hope we do it with enough class that it gets kids interested in science again. I want kids to look at astronauts, and science and advance human knowledge."

Although the potential benefits of this project are unfathomable at this stage, Noreus said he hopes they'll be great.

"If you were to ask Columbus what the benefits were of his exploration of the new world were, he would've never been able to come up with the idea of the United States," he said. "No one knew how much would happen just from the discovery of the new world, and I imagine going to Mars will be the same."

Noreus said it's the desire to be part of something greater than oneself and push the boundaries of discovery that drives him to continue to perform the Air Force mission.

It's that same desire driving him in his pursuit of being among the first settlers on the red planet, bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase "Aim High."