Aviation Heroes Are Superheroes Too

         As I continue right along on my journey to “Pilot-hood” I’d like to discuss and share about two specific war heroes that I’ve learned to appreciate along the way. In my previous article I discussed an inspirational pilot who took me on as a private student and in turn became my very first flight instructor; Mr. Wagers. Sadly I must report, it is no longer this way, Mr. Wagers took another job and is no longer my private instructor. However, he had a plan (as I’m told all pilots should.) Mr. Wagers introduced me to an old friend of his that is also a CFI. His friend’s name is Mr. Frames, who conveniently enough also flies out of Indiana. Needless to say, Mr. Frames is now instructing me. Of course, Mr. Frames has his own style of teaching, his own habits and certainly his own punch lines; He’s a good man though and a great instructor! Throughout my time spent with Mr. Frames he has mentioned several different names of famous pilots that I should be aware of. Mr. Frames is a man very devoted to his job and yes, I have been assigned “homework.” So, on this particular day, I took it upon myself to do a little bit of research and find out just what this old bird was talking about.

         The first pilot that Mr. Frames mentioned was Captain Richard C. Mulloy; obviously I was completely and utterly oblivious. This name meant absolutely nothing to me. However, upon “Googling” his name I was astonished at the outcome, what an awesome person for Mr. Frames to teach me about! Richard C. Mulloy was known by employees and students of the Kentucky Flying Service as "Dick Mulloy," This man learned to fly in Tennessee in 1941, and once he finished his studies he entered the civilian pilot training program. Later he became a pilot instructor in the U.S. Army Primary Flying School, and eventually ended up flying C-46s and C-47s with the Flying Tigers over "The Hump" across the Himalayas in World War II.

         Following the war, Dick returned to Louisville, Kentucky and formed the Kentucky Flying Service, which was located at Bowman Field (KLOU.) He built the organization over the years, operating out of the large hanger where they overhauled, maintained, and sold aircraft. In addition, Dick is generally credited with training more pilots than anyone else in this particular part of the country. In 1987, Dick sold the Kentucky Flying Service, and 1992 he sold Helicopters Inc., completing 47 years of operations at Bowman Field. I thought it ironic that such an influential and heroic man lived out his aviation career as well as his life right here in our very own Louisville, Kentucky.

         Next Mr. Frames told me about a man named Terrence Wilcutt. Born on October 31, 1949, and a native of Louisville, Ky., Wilcutt earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in math from Western Kentucky University in 1974. He then taught high school math for two years before entering the Marine Corps in 1976 and earned his naval aviator wings in 1978. From 1980 until 1983, he was stationed in Kaneohe, Hawaii, and flew F-4 Phantoms during two overseas deployments to Japan, Korea and the Philippines. For the next three years, he served as an F/A-18 fighter weapons and air combat maneuvering instructor while assigned to Squadron VFA-125 at Lemoore Naval Air Station in California. At this time he had more than 6,600 flight hours in more than 30 different aircraft. (Wow!) Wilcutt joined NASA in 1990 as an astronaut candidate and was accepted into the corps in 1991. He logged more than 1,007 hours in space as the pilot on two shuttle missions, STS-68 in 1994 and STS-79 in 1996, and commander of two others, STS-89 in 1998 and STS-106 in 2000.

         Finally, effective as of September 1, 2011, Terrence W. Wilcutt was appointed NASA’s chief of safety and mission assurance.

         Needless to say, a search to find a hero in the aviation world is not a difficult one; you just have to know where to find them. The two men that I have met and worked with in aviation thus far were inspiration enough; however, these two veteran heroes simply blew my mind. Aside from their international achievements, they were both at one point in the very same place that I now find myself. Where there is a will there is a way.

And again I’ll say “If you can dream it, you can do it.” –Walt Disney