Immediately after graduating from MIT in 1989, Fincke attended a summer exchange program with the Moscow Aviation Institute in the former Soviet Union, now Russia, where he studied Cosmonautics. After graduation from Stanford University in 1990, Fincke entered the United States Air Force where he was assigned to the Air Force Space and Missiles Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base in California. There he served as a Space Systems Engineer and a Space Test Engineer. In 1994, upon completion of the U. S. Air Force Test Pilot School, Edwards Air Force Base in California, Fincke joined the 39th Flight Test Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where he served as a Flight Test Engineer working on a variety of flight test programs, flying the F-16 and F-15 aircraft. In January 1996, he reported to the Gifu Test Center, Gifu Air Base in Japan where he was the United States Flight Test Liaison to the Japanese/United States XF-2 fighter program. Fincke as of 2005[update] has over 800 flight hours in more than 30 different varieties of aircraft and holds the rank of colonel. Fincke belongs to the Geological Society of America and the British Interplanetary Society.