Michael D. Paradise
On 24 Mar 44, three Navy ferry pilots were grounded and arrested for stunting over Manhattan, buzzing skyscrapers, and flying under East River bridges during delivery of new FM-2 Wildcats from General Motors Linden, NJ Plant to Mercer Field in Trenton.
I was born that day and like to say that event determined what I would become. As a child, I was always building model planes and watching airplanes so when I was 8 my dad got me a ride in a Waco biplane. Then, he got me a ticket for my first airliner ride in a DC-3 from Sioux City to Omaha at age 12. At age 20, I saw the “Great Race” between that same Waco and an ANG F-100C during a Blue Angel airshow at Sioux City. Dick Strohmeier roared over the field with a transonic shock wave as he won the race. He had flown a 140 mile round trip to Sioux Falls while the Waco flew 14 miles to Sioux City and back.
I longed to be that guy and always wanted to fly jets, but got sidetracked in college with a desire to make a lot of money. With an engineering degree, I interviewed with Morris-Knudsen and Bechtel who were building up facilities in Vietnam. This was to be my ticket to getting rich but they forgot to hire me.
Then I remembered the Sioux City Air Guard where I could fly fighters and make money in a civilian job. A lot of those guys were rich airline pilots. They took me in as a Civil Engineering Officer until the next pilot slot came to the unit. My plan derailed when the unit was recalled to active duty in January of 1968. The 174 TFS “BATS” went to Phu Cat and I went to Hurlburt Field, FL in a CE Unit.
I got my Private Pilot license at age 24 and finally made it to UPT in January of ’69 while my unit was still in SEA. (The Sioux City “BATS” flew out of Phu Cat from May 68 – May 69). I had not done well in gun school in 1970, but IP Bob Cassaro did his best to train a slow learner. It took a while for me to finally measure up but, after nearly killing myself on my first solo LAB pass, later in 1979, I was able to set the Smoky Hill range record of 8 for 8 shacks.
The older I get, the better pilot I used to be.
Dice spent 10 years Continental Airlines DC-9 First Officer, 6 years as Flight Safety International Learjet Instructor/Corporate Pilot with Conagra Foods with flight time in the LR-23/28/31/35/36/55.
He also spent 20 years Jet Warbird Instructor: L-29/39, T-33, Fouga, Venom, Provost, Gnat with 15 years with the British Folland Gnat (former Red Arrows jet) Airshows
At Age 70 he says he “Washed up” and totally retired after 45 years in jets and over 11,000 hours flight time. Then at age 73, he was in the air again, flying 948 with Dean Cutshall in September of 2017.
Dice is a member of Daedalians, a volunteer at Wings Over the Rockies Museum, and a Director in the Colorado Aviation Historical Society.
- 4420 CES Eglin #9 Hurlburt Field, FL
- 1/1969-1/1970 UPT 3550 PTW Moody AFB, GA 70-05
- F-100 gun school 162TFTG, Arizona ANG, A-7 transition D-M AFB, AZ. (F-100, A-7)
- 174 TFS, Sioux City, IA ANG, 120 TFS, Buckley, CO ANG
- USAFR 9029 ARS JRTU MTU CO-1
- N & MCRTC, Buckley ANGB, CO
Awards & Decorations
Humanitarian Service Medal for crash rescue United Flt 232 in 1989
Total Flight Hours: 11,000 hours
ANG Flt time:
1,212 hrs F-100C/D/F
1,862 hrs A-7D/K
Other Flt time:
Military & Civilian Education
- SOS, Air Command and Staff, (correspondence)
- Sea Survival
- USC AF Safety School
- Maintenance School
- B.S. Construction Engineering, Iowa State University