A Life of Flying High
By Tom Morrow
Nearly a century ago, a young lad born to Greek parents started out in life as an outstanding football and baseball player. In 1940, he found himself joining the Navy to become a pilot, but before he could actually climb into a cockpit, World War II broke out and he was scooped up from Pensacola Naval Air Station to become a member of ship’s company aboard the new aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV-7).
The first of several close encounters with death came out in the Pacific on June 6, 1942 during the Battle of Midway – he missed that action – just barely. He was a gunner on a the two-man TBF Avenger aircraft in VT-7 torpedo squadron. As that battle approached, the Navy decided to make a new torpedo squadron, VT-8. The Navy lined up VT-7’s crews on the deck of the Wasp and divided it in half. He remained in VT-7 and stayed aboard the Wasp as it headed to the South Pacific. On that fateful day during the Battle of Midway, every plane in the new VT-8 squadron was shot down by the Japanese as they attempted to attack the enemy. Later, at age 23, he became the youngest chief petty officer in the Navy before the War ended.
He would go through a successful business career, building hotels, golf resorts and country clubs – even operated an 11-plane airline for some years. Along the way he had a mishap or two, including crashing a helicopter while building a golf course.
After successfully selling all of his holdings, at 89, he was writing his autobiography of a life fully lived. Then, he was asked what happened to his airline? Why didn’t he create an airline to fly out of Carlsbad’s Palomar Airport? Why not? It was 2009 and he wasn’t even 90 yet.
This week, on Thursday, Nov. 1, Ted Vallas launches his new California Pacific Airlines with the first flight going to San Jose. The next day, Reno will be added, and by Nov. 15, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and later Sacramento with complete the list of destinations flying out of Carlsbad’s North County airport.
At 97, Ted figures he’s still too young to retire.
“Work is what keeps you young,” Ted reckons.
GREAT QUOTES: “The Constitution does not provide for ‘first’ and ‘second’ class citizens. … Freedom is an indivisible word. If we want to enjoy it we must be prepared to extend it to everyone … rich or poor.” 1940 presidential candidate Wendall Willkie.
SCAG SEZ: “Reasons that sound good, I’ve finally realized, most often aren’t sound reasons. — Cecil Scaglione, www.maturelifefeatures.com
FIND ‘UM – You can order many of my novels online at Amazon.com. For a list on line go to: www.Amazon.com, “search” for my name.
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