In the early 1970’s the original pilots who help founded the Flying Tiger Line were approaching the required retirement age of 60. The concept of an association for these retired pilots was the idea of Captain John “Dick” Rossi, legendary ace of the American Volunteer Group (AVG) during World War II, and one of the original investors in Bob Prescott’s fledgling all cargo airline, National Skyways, in 1945.
In 1974 Dick Rossi and his wife, Lydia, invited a number of such retired pilots to their home and began working on the framework for an association that would carry on the legacy and spirit of the Flying Tiger Line, including our airline’s historic roots from within the AVG. Rossi, not really wanting an officer position, was nevertheless elected the very first president of what was then call the Flying Tiger Line Retired Pilots Association (FTLRPA). Herb Wall was elected Vice President, Bob Conrath was elected Treasurer, and Jim Bledsoe was elected Secretary. These other officers were all legendary pilots in their own rights during the war and had been with the airline since the beginning as well.
In 1990 the current FTLRPA President, Lamont “Shad” Shadowens, realized the enormous amount of work that was becoming involved in planning the yearly reunions and enlisted the professional services of Mrs. Sandy White. She has been with us ever since for the past 28 years and is our Meeting Planner for Life.
In 1995 the “R” was dropped from our group’s name and all actively employed cockpit crewmembers were invited to join, regardless of age or employment status at the company. Everyone involved shortly thereafter recognized that ALL former employees of FTL comprised our collective family and the bylaws were subsequently changed one more time to all any and all FTL employees, active or retired, to join as Associate Members. Former flight attendants, managers, ramp personnel, crew planners, mechanics, and sales persons have since become a valued part of our membership.
There is no other association of former legacy carriers that reunites as FTLPA does each year. In addition, we continue as an informational source for many family members of those who have Flown West, as well as for those interested in the history of FTL.
The Tiger Spirit, the camaraderie that we embrace, and the fond memories we share as employees of Flying Tigers live on because of the genius of the original founders and the dedication of the officers of this association that followed. Nothing, however, will surpass the enthusiasm of our membership who come and enjoy our yearly reunions and remain engaged with one another. These are the real reasons for the success of FTLPA and will undoubtably keep us flying high for many years to come.
The chart below lists officers for each year and the location of the reunion.
|Year||Venue||President||VP||Treasurer||Secretary||Notes - F/A Rep|
|1974||Rossi Home||Officers are elected and By-Laws constructed|
|1975||Los Angeles||Dick Rossi||Bob Conrath||Jim Bledsoe|
|1976||Los Angeles||Dick Rossi||H.J. Wall||Bob Conrath||Jim Bledsoe|
|1977||San Mateo (SFO)||Dick Rossi||H.J. Wall||Bob Conrath||Jim Bledsoe|
|1978||Honolulu - Reef Hotel||Dick Rossi||Bob Conrath|
|1979||Mazatlan||Rex Tripp||Tom Cotton||Bob Conrath||Don Hassig|
|1981||San Diego, Catamaran||Tom Cotton||Bob Conrath||Don Hassig|
|1982||Stu.MaMchon||Don Hassig||Bob Conrath|
|1983||Stu.MaMchon||Don Hassig||Bob Conrath|
|1984||Wash. DC, Holiday Inn||Jim Martin||Dick Pocius||Bill Franklin||Mk. Deveraux|
|1985||San Diego, Catamaran||Dick Pocius||Mk. Deveraux||Bill Franklin||Chuck Hammer|
|1986||Kona, King Kamehameha||Dick Pocius||Mk. Deveraux||Bill Franklin||Chuck Hammer|
|1987||San Diego - Coronado||Dick Stuelke||Rex Tripp||Chuck Hammer||Mk. Deveraux|
|1988||Las Vegas - Golden Nugget||Dick Stuelke||Rex Tripp||Morgan Hughes||Morgan Hughes|
|1989||Avila Beach - Bay Inn||L. Shadowens||Ed Pinke||Morgan Hughes||Morgan Hughes|
|1990||Shell Beach - Clifts||L. Shadowens||Ed Pinke||John Dobson||Morgan Hughes|
|1991||Washington, DC- Crowne Plaza||L. Shadowens||Ralph Mitchell||John Dobson||Elgen Long||Sandy's First. Anna Chenault Speaks|
|1992||Santa Barbara - Fess Parker||L. Shadowens||Ralph Mitchell||John Dobson||Elgen Long|
|1993||San Diego - Marriott||Joe Calton||Hank Germain||Ray Hopcus||John Ristano|
|1994||Reno - Hilton||Joe Calton||Hank Germain||Ray Hopcus||John Ristano||Last FTLRPA|
|1995||Phoenix - Wyndham||John Ristano||Peter Peralta||Buck Jennings||Frank Therian||First FTLPA. Ann Marie Prescott Speaks|
|1996||Shell Beach - Cliffs||John Ristano||Peter Peralta||Buck Jennings||Frank Therian|
|1997||Las Vegas - Hilton||George Gewehr||Peter Peralta||Gene Martin||Bob Gilbert|
|1998||Phoenix - Wyndham||George Gewehr||Bob Gilbert||Gene Martin||Pete Peralta|
|1999||San Antonio - Anthony||George Gewehr||Bob Gilbert||Peter Okicich||Pete Peralta||Martha Maxham|
|2000||San Diego - Hanalei||George Gewehr||Bob Gilbert||Peter Okicich||Martha Maxham|
|2001||Seattle - Marriott-Westin||Don McComas||Mike Coppola||Peter Okicich||Martha Maxham|
|2002||Sacramento - Holiday Inn||Don McComas||Bill Mayfield||Peter Okicich||Judie Esler|
|2003||New Orleans - Monteleone||Don McComas||Bill Mayfield||Peter Okicich||Judie Esler F/A Recogniton Dinner|
|2004||Long Beach - Marriott||George Gewehr||Bill Mayfield||Peter Okicich||Judie Esler|
|2005||Portland - Marriott||George Gewehr||Bill Mayfield||Peter Okicich||Judie Esler|
|2006||Tucson - Omni Westward||George Gewehr||Bill Mayfield||Peter Okicich||Judie Esler|
|2007||Monterey - Marriott||George Gewehr||Bill Mayfield||Peter Okicich||Robin Pestarino|
|2008||San Diego - Hanalei||George Gewehr||Bill Mayfield||Peter Okicich||Robin Pestarino F/A Recognition Dinner|
|2009||Palm Springs - Aqua Caliente||George Gewehr||Bill Mayfield||Peter Okicich||Robin Pestarino|
|2010||Napa - Marriott||George Gewehr||Bill Mayfield||Peter Okicich||Robin Pestarino|
|2011||Scottsdale - Doubletree||George Gewehr||Bill Mayfield||Peter Okicich||Robin Pestarino|
|2012||Monterey - Marriott||John Dickson||Larry Weeks||Peter Okicich||Robin Pestarino|
|2013||San Diego - Crown Plaza||John Dickson||Larry Weeks||Peter Okicich||Robin Pestarino F/A Recognition Dinner|
|2014||Seattle - Marriott Waterfront||John Dickson||Larry Weeks||Peter Okicich||Robin Pestarino|
|2015||New Orleans - Marriott||John Dickson||Larry Weeks||Peter Okicich||Robin Pestarino|
|2016||Napa - Marriott||John Dickson||Larry Weeks||Peter Okicich||Robin Pestarino|
|2017||Portland - Red Lion||John Dickson||Larry Weeks||Peter Okicich||Joyce Danielson|