Albert Lee Ueltschi

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Albert Lee "Al" Ueltschi (May 15, 1917 – October 18, 2012) is considered the father of modern flight training and was the founder of FlightSafety International. [1] Ueltschi was once personal pilot to Juan Trippe and an associate to Charles Lindbergh. On July 21, 2001, he was enshrined at Dayton, Ohio in the National Aviation Hall of Fame, [2] along with test pilot Joe Engle, United States Air Force flying ace Marion Carl, and USAF ace Robin Olds. In 2013, Flying magazine ranked Ueltschi number 13 on its list of the "51 Heroes of Aviation". [3]

Flight training training of aircraft pilots and aircrew

Flight training is a course of study used when learning to pilot an aircraft. The overall purpose of primary and intermediate flight training is the acquisition and honing of basic airmanship skills.

Juan Trippe American airline entrepreneur and pioneer

Juan Terry Trippe was an American commercial aviation pioneer, entrepreneur and the founder of Pan American World Airways, one of the iconic airlines of the 20th century. He was instrumental in numerous revolutionary advances in airline history, including the development and production of the Boeing 314 Clipper, which opened trans-Pacific airline travel, the Boeing Stratoliner which helped to pioneer cabin pressurization, the Boeing 707 which launched the Jet Age, and the Boeing 747 which introduced the era of jumbo jets. Trippe's signing of the 747 contract coincided with the 50th anniversary of Boeing, and he gave a speech where he explained his belief that these jets would be a force that would help bring about world peace.

Charles Lindbergh American aviator, author, inventor, explorer, and social activist

Charles Augustus Lindbergh was an American aviator, military officer, author, inventor, explorer, and environmental and political activist, At age 25 in 1927, he went from obscurity as a U.S. Air Mail pilot to instantaneous world fame by winning the Orteig Prize: making a nonstop flight from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, New York, to Paris, France. Lindbergh covered the ​33 12-hour, 3,600-statute-mile (5,800 km) flight alone in a single-engine purpose-built Ryan monoplane, the Spirit of St. Louis.


Life and career

Al Ueltschi was born and raised in Franklin County, Kentucky. He was the youngest of seven children of Robert and Lena Ueltschi. At age 16, Ueltschi opened a hamburger stand named "Little Hawk" across from a White Castle near his high school in Frankfort, Kentucky to pay for flying lessons. His first airplane, purchased using profits earned from Little Hawk, was a Waco 10. Ueltschi attended the University of Kentucky for a year but dropped out and instead started a barnstorming career, eventually teaching student pilots at the Queen City Flying Service in Cincinnati. On one occasion, he survived falling out of his airplane while on an instruction flight, parachuting into a briar patch while his student landed safely on his own. [4]

Franklin County, Kentucky U.S. county in Kentucky, United States

Franklin County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. As of the 2010 census, the population was 49,285. Its county seat is Frankfort, the state capital. The county was formed in 1795 from parts of Woodford, Mercer and Shelby counties, and was named after the American inventor and statesman Benjamin Franklin.

Kentucky American state

Kentucky, officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state located in the east south-central region of the United States. Although styled as the "State of Kentucky" in the law creating it,, Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth. Originally a part of Virginia, in 1792 Kentucky split from it and became the 15th state to join the Union. Kentucky is the 37th most extensive and the 26th most populous of the 50 United States.

White Castle (restaurant) American fast food restaurant chain

White Castle is an American regional hamburger restaurant chain with 377 locations across 13 states, with its greatest presence in the Midwest. It has been generally credited as the country's first fast-food chain. It is known for its small, square hamburgers. Sometimes referred to as "sliders", the burgers were initially priced at five cents until 1929 and remained at ten cents until 1949. In the 1940s, White Castle periodically ran promotional ads in local newspapers which contained coupons offering five burgers for ten cents, takeout only.

He began his career with Pan Am in 1941 as Juan Trippe's private pilot, retiring in 1968 at the age of 50. While employed with Pan Am, Ueltschi married his wife Eileen in June 1944.

He founded FlightSafety International in 1951, the world's foremost aviation training organization, after noticing that corporate pilots did not receive the same rigorous training as airline pilots had. His first endorsement came from Trippe, who was President of Pan Am at the time. Ueltschi stepped down as President of FlightSafety in 2003, yet remained Chairman. The motto he started with still remains with FlightSafety today: "The best safety device in any aircraft is a well-trained crew." Berkshire Hathaway acquired FlightSafety in late 1996.

Berkshire Hathaway American multinational conglomerate holding company

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate holding company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, United States. The company wholly owns GEICO, Duracell, Dairy Queen, BNSF, Lubrizol, Fruit of the Loom, Helzberg Diamonds, Long & Foster, FlightSafety International, Pampered Chef, and NetJets, and also owns 38.6% of Pilot Flying J; 26.7% of the Kraft Heinz Company, and significant minority holdings in American Express (17.6%), Wells Fargo (9.9%), The Coca-Cola Company (9.4%), Bank of America (6.8%), and Apple (5.22%). Since 2016, the company has acquired large holdings in the major US airline carriers, and is currently the largest shareholder in United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, and a top three shareholder in Southwest Airlines and American Airlines. Berkshire Hathaway has averaged an annual growth in book value of 19.0% to its shareholders since 1965, while employing large amounts of capital, and minimal debt.

He spent his winters in Vero Beach, Florida, but worked daily in the warmer months at FlightSafety's headquarters at the Marine Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport in Flushing, Queens, New York.

Vero Beach, Florida City in Florida, United States

Vero Beach is a city in and the seat of Indian River County, Florida, United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 data, the city had a population of 15,220.

LaGuardia Airport Airport in Queens, New York City

LaGuardia Airport is an airport in the borough of Queens in New York. It is on the waterfront of Flushing and Bowery Bays in East Elmhurst and borders the neighborhoods of Astoria and Jackson Heights. The airport is the third busiest airport serving New York City, and the twentieth busiest in the United States. LaGuardia Airport covers 680 acres (280 ha).

Flushing, Queens Neighborhood of Queens in New York City

Flushing is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Queens in the United States. While much of the neighborhood is residential, Downtown Flushing, centered on the northern end of Main Street in Queens, is a large commercial and retail area and is the fourth largest central business district in New York City.


Ueltschi helped launch and was a prolific contributor to Orbis International, a nonprofit, global development organization which operates a flying eye hospital (utilizing a specially equipped McDonnell Douglas DC-10) that offers sight-saving surgery and training to doctors around the world, and whose mission is to eliminate avoidable blindness in developing countries.

Orbis International international non-profit non-governmental organization

Orbis International is an international non-profit non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Its programs focus on the prevention of blindness and the treatment of blinding eye diseases in developing countries through hands-on training, public health education, advocacy and local partnerships. Since 1982, Orbis capacity-building programs have enhanced the skills of 325,000 eye care personnel and provided medical and optical treatment to more than 23.3 million people in 92 countries.

McDonnell Douglas was a major American aerospace manufacturing corporation and defense contractor formed by the merger of McDonnell Aircraft and the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1967. Between then and its own merger with Boeing in 1997, it produced a number of well-known commercial and military aircraft such as the DC-10 airliner and F-15 Eagle air-superiority fighter.

In 2010, Ueltschi cofounded HelpMeSee [5] with his son Jim, to address cataract blindness in the developing world by training thousands of cataract specialists using techniques developed by Ueltschi himself.

On September 18, 2012, Ueltschi signed The Giving Pledge, noting his commitment to cataract relief. [6]

The National Business Aviation Association offers the Al Ueltschi Award for Humanitarian Leadership, given in recognition of "the spirit of service demonstrated by humanitarian leaders within the business aviation community." [7]

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  1. "#258 Albert Lee Ueltschi". Forbes. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
  2. "Albert Ueltschi". National Aviation Hall of Fame. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
  3. "51 Heroes of Aviation". Flying. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  4. "Unwelcome Silence - A legacy with roots in aviation's golden age," Aviation Week and Space Technology, October 29, 2012, p.20
  5. "HelpMeSee | Global Campaign to Eliminate Cataract Blindness". HelpMeSee. Retrieved 2015-08-11.
  6. The Giving Pledge
  7. "Al Ueltschi Award For Humanitarian Leadership". NBAA. Retrieved 26 April 2017.