Appalachian journey begins with an ending

Tue, 02/14/2006 - 3:43pm
By: The Citizen

Grey Eagle retires
I flew my last trip for American Airlines on February 7 - 8. The routing was New York - Chicago - Las Vegas - Chicago - New York with a lay over in Las Vegas. My wife accompanied me and the employees of American Airlines gave us a memorable send off. I was very nervous on final approach to LaGuardia and was worried about "hammering" my last landing ever. Thank the Lord I made a good landing and got much applause from the passengers.

During the taxi in to the ramp I announced to the passengers: "I am happy to report that after 36 years and 13,000 hours of flying I have succeeded in keeping my number of takeoffs and landings exactly EQUAL."

The passengers were very appreciative of this accomplishment since they had keen vested interests.

The three American Airlines New York Chief Pilots were there to meet the flight with congratulations. They had been in the ramp tower to watch (“grade”) my last approach and landing. The Chief Pilots Secretary organized a reception in American Operations with cake and coffee, which was attended by Flight Crews readying for their trips. After a small presentation the Base Chief Pilot cut off my uniform tie. This is a tradition with the New York Base to since the retiring pilot will never “have” to wear a tie again.

The other night my bride of 36 years put on a semi-surprise retirement / birthday / send off party. Family that I had not seen for a long time, friends that I had known since grade school, and pilots that I had served with in the military and airline were all there. I didn’t know most of them were coming and I was overwhelmed to say the least.

The time is finally here. After a year of intensive preparation I will load my pack, muster all the courage I can, and tomorrow take the first step of the six million, 400 thousand-step adventure. My thanks to the staff of “The Citizen”, your readers, and the citizens of Fayette County for supporting this project to benefit the Arthritis Foundation.Every little bit helps and together we can make a difference to cure arthritis.

Follow my progress and join the fight to defeat arthritis:,,

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