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Thread: The Luckiest Man Alive!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Pennsylvania, USA

    Default The Luckiest Man Alive!

    Some of you may know me from the various and sundry reminiscences I have penned over the years and Nels has had the great kindness and patience to publish on this website! As you might surmise from the various argosies I have laid out, I have had the good fortune to have been a professional pilot since 1971. Over the decades from then to now I have spent 17 years flying large jet transports for the US Air Force and 31 years doing the same thing for American Airlines.

    Those careers are the fulfillment of a dream that started sometime around the age of 5, back in what we now call the Golden Age of Air Transport -- the 1950's. Back then just about every boy had some degree of interest in airplanes and flying, since aviation was where just about all of the high tech excitement was. And the advent of the jets in the 50's made things even more exciting, so much so that for me my career aspirations were more or less set in stone by the turn of the 60's. The real miracle, though, the true piece of good fortune, was that I was able to actually achieve my dream. Many tried and most did not succeed; all of them just as deserving, just as talented, just as motivated as I was.

    Flying has taken me just about all over the world. The only continents that I have yet to set foot on are Australia and Antarctica. Australia is definitely on my list of places to see, but not until one of two things happens: either I somehow acquire the means to afford a first class round trip ticket, or a transonic craft is developed that can make the trip in under 4 hours! I think I'd better start playing the Powerball regularly, the odds of winning that are better than the odds of a 4 hour trip to Down Under in my lifetime!

    As for Antarctica, well let's just say that one of the reasons I moved south from Connecticut to southern Pennsylvania last year was that I had had enough of New England winters!

    I have met many wonderful people in the course of my flights; passengers, crew members, and people I met on the layovers. Indeed, it would be true to say that it was due to my flying (and being based in New York, living in Connecticut) that I met my bride of many years, known to me also as She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. She and I have shared a good many hours in flight, much of it in my own small plane, the Thorp Skyskooter.

    I have been involved in flight simulation since Air Force pilot training, where we utilized fixed base Link trainers which, unlike the famous "Blue Canoe" of WWII vintage, actually were realistic duplicates of the cockpits of the T-37 and T-38. I enjoyed "flying" these right from the get-go, and as I got involved flying other airplanes, there were always new simulators to go with them. The C-141A simulators had motion, which added a new dimension of realism. When I started training with the airlines, visual systems were added and things really got interesting!

    It should come as no surprise, then, that I immediately gravitated to what were originally video games in the early 1980's, games that offered a very crude simulacrum of the experience of movement through space, similar in some ways to flying. Atari Star Raiders was the first 3D game I recall having, and although today it would be regarded as incredibly crude it was a real revelation back then. In short order a young fellow by the name of Bruce Artwick started working on an actual flight simulator for the then-new personal computers and the rest, of course, is history. I got involved with the computer sims very early in the game - with the Sublogic Flight Simulator for the Atari 800, which was essentially a game console with a keyboard. We've come a long way since then, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.

    Since many of you know a great deal about various eras of my career from, I might as well share a few tidbits that you might not know, a short collection of things that stand out in memory from my 43 years of slipping the bonds:
    - First flight as a pilot: October 16 1970, first instructional flight in Cherokee 140
    - Last flight as a pilot: Hopefully not in logbook yet!
    - Best Landing: C-141A, runway 25L at EDAF (Rhein Main Airbase/Frankfurt Main Intl) wet runway
    - Worst Lading: Probably on rwy 13 at KLGA in a 757 - showing the copilot how the old man handles a crosswind (NOT!)
    - Longest Flight: EDAF - KCHS in a C-141A, around 13.5 hours
    - Shortest Flight: KLGA-KJFK in a 727 (see "Short Haul" in the features)
    - Most Fun Flight: Air Combat USA, Fullerton CA, Marchetti SF 260 in mock dogfights
    - Least Fun Flight: Local Pilot Training flights around the flagpole in the C-141 and C-5 on a really turbulent day
    - Airplane I wish I could have flown: Concorde
    - Airplane I wish I hadn't flown: None in this category yet, but a 5.5 hour flight in the GA-8 Airvan almost qualified!
    - Best Flight Simulator: FS 9 and the LDS 767 and DreamFleet 727
    - Worst Flight Simulator: Again, nothing in this category yet, and hopefully none to come!

    Happy Landings!

    Tony Vallilloskooter30.jpgCaptain Tony.jpg
    Last edited by avallillo; 04-09-2015 at 10:27 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Hampshire, UK


    Since no one around here has bothered to REPLY to your post, I thought I would!

    You still fly, alas I no longer have my wings!

    We need people like you here!

    Thank-you for an excellent read!
    If you are serious about your aerobatics you should add this to your hanger

  3. #3


    Great read! I have enjoyed your various "publishings" on this site over the years...glad to hear you're still flying.

  4. #4
    ibanez0711 Guest


    I awoke this morning and came to this website, a pass-time of many years of sim-flying. You have done with real flying what I have done in sim-flying, having been part of a simulator community since Flight Simulator 2, and soon to follow ATP (Air Transport Pilot), decades ago. Having so many exciting flights in a great many varied airplanes of these simulators, I was welling up with emotion as I read your post. Thank you for sharing such a marvelous story full of adventure.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2008


    Since I am only a pilot-wannabe I do not check this forum very often, but when I came across this post I realized that I recognized the name. I remembered that I had read the articles you posted of your last commercial trips before retirement. What a great set of articles! Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences, they were a pleasure to read. I never had the opportunity to get a PPL (medical reason), so my retirement project was to build my own GA flight simulator. If you are ever “Sunday flying” up over NE PA, I live right under the base leg to Rwy 27 at N13.


    i7 975 @ 4.0,NH-D14, ASUS P6T Deluxe V2, Win 7 64bit, 12GB, GTX570, Crucial SSD 1TB, WD 300 GB VRAP, WD 2TB, Antec 1200 tower,FSX Gold, FSUIPC, UTX, GEX, Simplugins

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Greensburg PA


    Nice posting and congratulations on such a stellar career.

    Happy flying.
    Don Ringling

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