Ken received his commission as an ensign in the United States Navy from the United States Naval Academy in May 1987. He was temporarily assigned to the NASA-JSC zero-g office at Ellington Field, Houston where he flew as a crew member on the NASA zero-g research aircraft. He was designated a Naval Aviator in October 1989 after completing flight training in the T-34C, T-2C, and TA-4J aircraft at NAS Corpus Christi and NAS Beeville, Texas. Ken reported to NAS Cecil Field, Florida for F/A-18 training and subsequent operational assignments with the Privateers of VFA-132 and the Gunslingers of VFA-105. He completed two deployments to the Mediterranean Sea including combat missions over North Iraq and Bosnia. During these tours, he served as an air wing strike leader, F/A-18 demonstration pilot, and night vision goggle instructor. Ken was selected for the Naval Postgraduate School/Test Pilot School cooperative program where he studied aeronautical engineering for 18 months in Monterey California followed by 12 months of test pilot training at NAS Patuxent River Maryland. He was selected as a team member of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Integrated Test Team as one of five Navy pilots responsible for developing a new fleet aircraft. This duty involved envelope expansion flight test in arrested landings, catapult assisted takeoffs, weapon separation, propulsion stability, performance, and general flying qualities. Ken was serving as the F/A-18E/F lead carrier suitability test pilot when he was selected for the astronaut program.
He has logged over 2,500 flight hours in more than 40 different aircraft and has over 300 shipboard, and 300 land based arrested landings.