Staff Photo by Robin Rudd/ John "Omar" Bradley talks about his expierence being a "newbie" in Chattanooga. ChattaNewbies, a group of people who are new to Chattanooga, recently met at the Chattanooga Brewing Company.

Like any good pilot, John "Omar" Bradley started his route with a map.

In plotting his next move after retirement from the Air Force, Bradley knew he wanted four distinct seasons, rivers, mountains and trees, which likely put him east of the Mississippi River and south of the Mason-Dixon Line. He also wanted to live in a college town, and needed to be within a couple of hours of a major airport to pursue his career in commercial aviation.

For a minute, it looked like he might land in Knoxville, but then a buddy suggested he check out Chattanooga. Once he did, Bradley was hooked. The combination of abundant outdoor activities, a downtown teeming with options for great food and beer, and the diversity of the people he met all swayed him, he says.

"I've landed an airplane on every continent. I've seen a lot of the world, and I know what I like and don't like," says Bradley, who settled in a house on the South Side two years ago. "I brag about Chattanooga to everybody who lets me talk about it."

Traffic can be a headache when he's trying to get out of town, and it has been a challenge to settle into a social circle as someone who is middle-aged, single, and doesn't go to an office every day. But those are minor hitches in an otherwise smooth landing, Bradley says.

"I'm home 16 or 17 days a month, and I want to spend all of my time here," he says.

(Read more: Laws of attraction: Drawing new people to the Scenic City is key to economic growth)

John “Omar” Bradley

* Arrived: Summer 2017 from St. Louis

* The draw: Rivers, mountains, four seasons in a college town within two hours of a major airport

* Here for it: “Chattanoogans are the friendliest people I have ever met.”

* Less than perfect: “How come we don’t recycle glass?”