Leland was born and raised in St. Louis Missouri. He attended Chaminade College Prep Class of 1977. After High School he joined Naval ROTC at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Upon graduation in December of 1981, he was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy. A month later he married Laura L Cantrell and they set out on their Navy adventure together.
He flew 16 different naval aircraft in 10 squadrons; including the F-4 Phantom II, EA-6B Prowler and TA-4 Skyhawk. Attached to CAG 5, 11 and 1 cruising on the USS Midway, America and Lincoln; Leland flew 80 missions over the war torn skies of Bosnia, Somalia, and Iraq. An Airline Transport Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor; he has flown numerous civilian types from the Cessna 150 to the Boeing 767-300. Currently he is rated in 767, 757, 727, MD-80 and Sabreliner series aircraft.
Leland got into the flight test world in 1995 when he transferred to VX-30, Naval Weapons Test Center Point Mugu. He flew as a Project Officer on various test programs and was the Squadron Operations Officer. Leland also attended the Project Officer/Engineers and the Out of Control Flight (spin school) courses at National Test Pilot School. In 1998 he was inducted as a Full Member in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP).
While on active duty Leland received his Masters from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and also graduated from the Naval War College. Studying and writing about historical battles helped to inspire his novels.
Closing out his Naval Aviation career in 1998 with 600 carrier landings (200 night) on 11 different carriers; Leland, Laura and their 4 kids moved back to St. Louis. After being furloughed from a cargo carrier (Kitty Hawk) he settled in at American Airlines in 1999.
Since 1999 he has worked on start up airlines in Africa and China, as well as various flight test projects.
Leland has also been an aviation/military technical adviser on 5 major motion pictures (Pearl Harbor, Behind Enemy Lines, xXx, The Day After Tomorrow and Stealth) and a television series pilot (not yet announced). Helping to write scripts sparked his series of books. Vengeance at Midway and Guadalcanal, is his latest novel set in history (WWII). Project 7Alpha was his first novel, published in 2008. End Game in the Pacific, his next, is scheduled for release soon.