Flying Tiger Line Pilots Association
Born in Leominster, Mass., in 1915, Al began flying airplanes in the late 1930s, and over the next 35 years, piloted everything from Stearman biplanes and C-47s to 707s and DC-8s to Cessna and Ultralight aircraft.
According to documentation from close friends and airmen, Al wanted to fly early in his life, but didn't make the grade with the Air Corps. But he found his way to the Royal Canadian Air Force where he earned his wings. WWII erupted and Al returned to the U.S. Army Air Corps as a rated pilot. He coincidentally served while "flying the hump" during the war, probably protected at times by the very Flying Tigers that would eventually come home to create the Flying Tiger Line he would fly for as a professional pilot. There he would also meet and marry his wife, Betty Perreault, a Flying Tiger Line stewardess.
He was a pilot for The Flying Tiger Line until retiring in 1975 when he and his wife, Betty, "bought the farm" in Fallbrook, growing avocados and improving his golf game. Al and Betty moved to Northern California in the 1980s, moving back to Fallbrook before returning to Humboldt County in 2002. Betty unfortunately passed
away on August 8, 2002.
A memorial service was held on Friday, April 4, 2003, for Albert Perreault who died three days earlier on April 1 in Eureka with his daughter by his side following a long bout with Parkinson's disease. Captain Perreault was 88 when he made his final Flight West.
The following is a testimony from Fred Bayse, one of his fellow airmen and the photographer of the photo below.
I began flying with Al shortly after joining the 7th Geodetic and flew for the most part with him for a span of about five years. I'm not sure where we were going or when but I suspect it was around 1949 or 1950. We are in the only C-47 that we had with two radio compasses, an ARN-7 and an ARN-5.
The name Capt. Midnite came about because of the way they paid per idem at one point in time. They paid another day or portion of another day if you landed after midnight. If Al saw that we were going to arrive close to midnight he would come back on the throttles and we would drag our feet until we touched down some time after midnight. Someone in the squadron caught onto what was going on and began calling him Capt. Midnite.
He was one fine AC. He once explained his philosophy about taking care of his troops. He was commissioned in the cavalry before he learn to fly. There the philosophy was "Take care of your horse first, next see that your troops are provided for and then take care of your needs." Al continued this practice in the Air Force. First the aircraft, then the crew, and then himself. He also saw to the needs of the ground station personnel along those lines as well. He was one fine officer.
I first served in the U.S. Navy as a radioman. When I joined the Air Force it was an entirely new ballgame. There were a lot of things to learn. In the Navy the relationship between officers and enlisted men was not the same as in the Air Force.
I was set on my first TDY to Jamaica in January or February of '49 as Al's RO along with Pinky Settlemire. The C-47 we had required an engine change shortly after we arrived down there and so I tagged along with Pinky to base maintenance to get an "A" frame and the other necessary equipment to change the engine.
We had the cowling off and were hard at it when Al and Lt. McKenzie showed up in coveralls ready to go to work. I was shocked! Officers just didn't do that. But these two were in there up to their elbows in all the grease and grime same as we were.
I would learn that Al was a hands-on person and if there was a job to be done he would help along with the rest of the crew. This again applied not only to the aircraft but to the installation of ground stations. He wouldn't ask anyone to do something that he wouldn't do himself. Later the Air Force adopted the model of "Leadership By Example". Al was a prime example.
Al was affectionately referred to by his family as "Uncle Joe". Perreault apparently did not like his given name of Albert. According to his nephew, Jan Perreault, he was larger-than-life with his stories. Below are some remembrances from him.
I knew that my own father, deceased, Paul Perreault (TWA, PAA, FAA) was best friends with his brother Albert. Dad was maintenance (10th Mountain, wounded in Mt. Belvedere Italy) and Uncle Joe was the flyer. My father became an inspector and eventually an accident investigator for the FAA so the discussions between them of go, no go situations are still very much a part of my reminiscence. They lost their father in the 1918 flu epidemic, and had a pretty difficult life with my father the older taking on the responsibilities of a father. These two guys were close brothers, living on different coasts yet taking the time to see each other every year.
The following comes from George Gewehr who lived with Al in Fallbrook while he was down there.
We knew Al very well. Betty was a stewardess with Tigers and yes they did live in Fallbrook. They were at our house on more than one occasion along with the Rossi's. They lived in Fallbrook for several years. At one time Al decided he wanted to have an ultra light and fly it off his property. He did this for about two times and the neighbors made such a fuss and protest to the county, they told him he couldn’t do it. Betty and Al had no children. They moved from Fallbrook but I don’t remember where they moved to after Fallbrook.Back To Memorials