28 February 1941 – The Republic F-84 Thunderjet was an American turbojet fighter-bomber aircraft. Originating as a 1944 United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) proposal for a “day fighter”, the F-84 first flew in 1946. Although it entered service in 1947, the Thunderjet was plagued by so many structural and engine problems that a 1948
Lawrence Andrew Sittig
From an interview “After Flight with Captain Bud” by Ivan Gabaldon for National Geographic, May 14, 2015
“I’ve been flying for over 50 years. I started flying as a teenager, grew up in General Aviation –that is flying small planes– and then during my college years got all of my gradings, commercial pilot gradings, and became a flight instructor. Then after college, I entered the military, I was trained in the United States Air Force and flew jet fighters, a passion which continued for some 31 years in the Air National Guard of the United States Air Force. Also, I was hired into the airline industry and flew as a Captain with Delta Airlines for about 30 years, retiring just a few years ago. Now I’m back to General Aviation, flying smaller airplanes. I own my own airplane, a Beechcraft Bonanza, but I do a lot of flying with Lighthawk(1).
… I started in small airplanes, Cessnas, Beechcrafts and Pipers, and then when I went into the Air Force, of course, the airplanes became much more sophisticated, high-speed jet fighters, you move from little airplanes to traveling super-sonic, faster than the speed of sound, with very sophisticated weapons delivery systems. And then I joined the airline industry, flying large transport-category airplanes with 290 people on board, a lot of responsibility for those people. I flew those airplanes all over the world for Delta, in Europe and the Middle East, North Africa, all over South America and into the Orient, and of course all over the US to every major city in America. Then I retired from Delta, and I retired from the Air Force -the International Guard- and now I’ve come back to the smaller airplanes that I began in, some fifty years ago. But I’ve always been of the mind that my favorite airplane is the airplane I’m flying that day. It doesn’t matter what it is, I have a passion for flying. I love to fly and I love to share the experience of flight with other people.”
Bud retired from the USAF with the rank of General. He remarked to Ivan, “I think we are who we are, no matter what role we play in life. In the military one learns to become a leader, and as you increase in rank it’s increasingly important to be good to your people. To be an effective leader you must be sensitive to your people. So when you move from the military, which is very hierarchical and very regimented, nevertheless those basic human skills transfer, and when you get out into the civilian world again it’s all about your relationship with people, communicating effectively with people and understanding where they’re coming from. And it’s very important, with our partners that we fly with in Lighthawk, that we take time to help them understand the experience of flying in a small airplane, because many of our partners have never flown in a small airplane and for many of them it’s a bit threatening, it’s unknown. So it’s important to take some time to make them feel comfortable and hopefully transfer your own comfort level with the experience to them, so they can feel more comfortable. Today, for example, was unique, we’re flying over jungles, we’re flying on the coastline, and then we’re flying well out over the ocean, so there’s a lot of exposure with a single-engine airplane… you know what happens if you have an engine failure over the ocean. So today we took special precautions and more personal flotation devices so that if you went down on the water you had a flotation device, we have an onboard raft, and you have to take a few minutes to tell people about what to expect. Hopefully, that will never happen but we have to be prepared.”
Bud Sittig also flies with the Liberty Foundation in a B-17. “The Flying Fortress, the B-17, is a WWII bomber that was used extensively, flown out of England, in support of the allied initiatives against the Nazis in WWII. There are only eight Flying Fortresses still flying and I fly with the Liberty Foundation, that’s libertyfoundation.org and you can read extensively about the mission. We fly the airplane on a tour program throughout the summer months to major cities all around the US, to help people remember or understand better those that served as crew members aboard the B-17. Many thousands of young combat members in WWII died in the B-17, huge loss of life. When one B-17 went down 10 people lost their lives. So really our mission is to help preserve the memory and it’s dedicated to those warriors that flew and served aboard those airplanes. As I said there are only eight still flying in the world. The airplane that I’m flying is called the Memphis Belle(2), there’s a famous movie of the Memphis Belle filmed in 1989 that tells the story of that aircraft, which had the first ten-member crew that survived twenty-five missions because the statistical probability of surviving 25 missions was almost zero. For two years nobody survived 25 missions until in 1943 the Memphis Belle crew completed 25 missions, then they took the airplane back to the United States and went on tour. They were celebrities of sorts, war heroes, but they went on tour to help sell savings bonds to support the war effort.”
Lawrence (Bud) Sittig serves as President and Chief Operating Officer of Carlsbad-Palomar Airlines, Inc. Mr. Sittig has over 40 years experience in the aviation industry. He began his career as Air National Guard and retired with the rank of Brigadier General from the Colorado Air National Guard and joined Delta Airlines as a Line Pilot. He served as Executive Administrator for the Air Line Pilots Association and General Manager of Flight Operations and concluded his work at Delta as Director of Flight Safety. In 2004, he was hired as Vice President of Operations for Skybus. He was actively involved in the FAA certification process, raising $166 million in equity, and managed the day-to-day operations of the airline. In 2008, he founded Flight Guidance LLC. He serves as Director of Carlsbad-Palomar Airlines, Inc. (source: Bloomberg.com)
(1) Lighthawk: LightHawk is a unique non-profit that grants flights to conservation groups through a network of volunteer pilots. Nearly every day LightHawk donates educational, scientific and photography flights covering the U.S., Mexico, Central America, and parts of Canada. LightHawk volunteer pilots, aircraft, and resources help to tip the balance toward sustainability for every major environmental issue within our targeted areas of focus. – Ivan Gabaldon
(2) The Memphis Belle was lost after crashing on takeoff from Aurora Municipal Airport in Aurora, IL on June 15, 2011. All 7 people on board escaped unharmed.