The National Aviation Hall of Fame Marks the Passing of Enshrinee Al Ueltschi
Aviation safety and training icon is also remembered as a world class humanitarian
Dayton, Ohio 2012 – The National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) loses a great enshrinee with the passing of safety industry legend, 95-year-old Albert Lee Ueltschi, founder and chairman emeritus of FlightSafety International, Inc. Mr. Ueltschi died on Thursday, October 18, 2012 in Vero Beach, Florida.
“Safety is the foundation on which our air transportation industry rests its operational record, and the US has the best training systems in the world because of Al Ueltschi’s pioneering leadership” said Phil Roberts, Chairman of the NAHF Board of Trustees. “Al’s initiation and support of ORBIS, the flight enabled eye hospital which travels the world teaching and healing, is recognized as one of the greatest humanitarian efforts for all people world-wide,” added NAHF President Bill Harris.
Ueltschi was a significant force behind Project Orbis, an international nonprofit aircraft-based eye hospital that since the 1980s has traveled to the world’s less-developed areas to teach sight-saving techniques and surgical procedures. This flying hospital and teaching facility performs eye surgeries and teaches sight-saving techniques to local medical personnel.
The youngest of seven children, Albert Lee Ueltschi grew up on a dairy farm in rural Kentucky. A childhood fascination with aircraft blossomed into an obsession in 1927 as the 10-year-old breathlessly followed Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight. Convinced that aviation was his destiny, a 16-year-old Ueltschi earned money for flying lessons by operating several hamburger stands when he wasn’t attending school.
This entrepreneurial spirit continued during his aviation career, from his days as a daredevil barnstormer to his role as a pilot for Queen City Flying Service and then into his dream job flying for the prestigious Pan American Airways. At Pan American, Ueltschi served as personal pilot for the company’s founder, Juan Trippe. Trippe introduced his young pilot to the movers and shakers in industry, politics and aviation.
During his early days at Pan American, Ueltschi was struck by the lack of continuing training available to most of the corporate pilots he met in pilot lounges and FBOs. He dreamed of creating a company that would offer corporate fliers the same high quality, on-going education available to airline and military pilots. After receiving Juan Trippe’s blessing to develop the concept in his off hours, Ueltschi started FlightSafety. In the 50 years since FlightSafety opened its doors, the company has expanded to many training centers worldwide and has earned a reputation as one of the world’s top safety training facilities.
Today, FlightSafety trains a broad spectrum of military, corporate, regional and airline pilots. Ueltschi continues to oversee the company, now called FlightSafety International. In recognition of his contributions to international aviation safety, Albert Lee Ueltschi was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2001.
The National Aviation Hall of Fame sends their condolences to the Ueltschi family.