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Norm Neuls 
Chino Valley, AZ
Tuesday, 31. August 2004 17:20 Host: Write a comment Send E-mail

Greetings to all former and present squadron 3 members from one of the “older alumni”. Back in 1954 I was invited to a squadron meeting by fellow classmate and squadron alumni, Jim Upton. At that time the squadron had acquired the Aeronca Champ to replace the J-3. The Champ needed a rebuild and this was accomplished at advisor Ray “Shorty” Gillingham’s repair station at San Fernando Airport. After school at San Fernando High, I would ride my motorscooter out to the hangar and work on the Champ. A bit of trivia – Ralph Truglio was a teacher at the high school in those days. I soloed the Champ at Whiteman Airpark shortly after my 16th birthday and then the Private a year later.

In the early 60’s I obtained my A&E – whoops A&P license after two years at Glendale Junior College. In those days we had the draft and shortly thereafter I was a member of the US Army and a helicopter mechanic in Fairbanks AK. That was my official job but unofficially I was the flying club mechanic due to my A&P ticket. After the Army when I should have gone with the airlines I spent two years rebuilding the only remaining all stainless steel amphibian – 1936 Fleetwing Seabird.

On to flying and I started out with Schaefer Air Ambulance right there at VNY. Then on to aerial surveying in many US and overseas locations. In 1978 I became a corporate pilot for Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) and moved to Anchorage AK. Started out flying the company Twin Otter up on the N. Slope (Prudhoe Bay) and progressed thru the Hawker to the 727(my favorite airplane) in 1985 transporting company and contract personnel between ANC and the N. Slope. “Downsizing” came along in 1993 so for the next eight years I flew airtaxi/medivac and flightseeing out of ANC.

Three years ago moved to Prescott AZ as the wife became weary of the long dark Alaskan winters, although I’d go back. Until just recently, I taught B-727 ground school and some simulator here at Embry- Riddle. It has been quite a ride and it all started with that first squadron meeting many years ago. I am eternally grateful to the adult advisors, most who are no longer with us, for the help and encouragement to teenage boys that had a genuine interest in aviation.

Flight plan closed.
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