May 23, 1941 - November 30, 2022
It is with deep sadness that we relay the news that Captain Douglas Happ, 81, died today a little after 11am in the crash of his single-engine Arion Lightning during landing at Zamperini Field in Torrance, CA.
Close friends of the family, "Tym" Tymcyzsyzn and Sheree Weber, relay the following after visiting Marie to share their condolences:
They’ll have a private family-only service fairly soon and have his remains interred at the VA graveyard in Riverside. They’ll follow that with a Celebration-of-Life “in a couple months” somewhere nearby their home, possibly his Men’s Club in Torrance if it’s big enough. Obviously there are no details to any of this yet, but that’s enough for people to have an idea of how to plan. Details will follow when available I’m sure.
They’re doing as well as could be expected and we had a few good laughs telling Doug stories. Their three kids are there now, and other family are arriving tomorrow. Plus they have friends coming by and bringing food etc.
Marie told me of a sympathy card that she just sent out to a friend in the past week. It read something like, “If I knew what to say, I’d say it. If I knew what to do, I’d do it.” Right now I don’t think anyone knows the proper words.
Prior to employment with Flying Tigers, Doug was an air traffic controller in the USAF, based at K.I.Sawyer AFB, Michigan/ Clark AFB, Phillippines/ Udorn, Korat and Takhli, Thailand/ and finally Saigon, Viet Nam.
He was discharged in 1964 and was hired by Flying Tigers in 1966 as a first officer on the L-1049H Super Constellation. He then flew the CL-44, the DC-63, the B-747 and finally the Airbus A-300 after the merger with Fedex. He served as a Line Check Airman on the DC-8 and the B-747, and as an ALPA Rep for 20 years as Membership Chairman, Negotiating Committee Member, Grievance Chairman, Relief Flights Committee Chairman, and Negotiating Committee Chairman. He went on to become Chief Pilot, Western Region for Flying Tigers, then Chief Pilot 747 and Director, Flight Operations for Federal Express and finally Flight Manager 747.
Doug retired in Paris, France on December 17th, 2000, his wife Marie's birthday. Please keep her and the rest of the Happ family in your thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time. More photos of Doug are posted below testimonials
I met Doug while flying the DC 8. He was always very professional and pleasant. He had a kind word for everyone on the crew and a sunny disposition. At the reunions, he and Marie were in demand as individuals and as a couple due to their willingness to support activities and general helpfulness, not to mention their welcoming dispositions. They were a lovely couple to be around. Marie and family, we feel your loss keenly. God speed, Doug.
Robin H. Pestarino, former FTL Flight Attendant
I can’t say it any clearer than this – Doug Happ was one of the finest people I have known in my life. As a person, as a Pilot, as an ALPA Rep, and as a Flight Manager, no one brought more to the table than Doug.
What most of us don’t know is that we, and most of the Airline Industry, all owe Doug a debt of gratitude. After the Airline Deregulation Act of 1977, the Airline business was thrown into chaos and many of the legacy carriers sought, and received, IRS waivers to reduce or eliminate the required contribution to their Defined (Fixed) Benefit Pension Plans, resulting in gross underfunding of many airline pension plans.
In an effort to get ahead of the problem Doug used his position on the Pilots Negotiating Committee to work with the Retirement and Insurance Committee to develop a Defined Contribution plan which provided monthly defined cash contributions into individual accounts for each pilot with those accounts being 100% cash vested and individually managed by the pilots themselves.
In those days it took decades for your pension to become fully vested and the thought of a bunch of “unsophisticated” pilots managing their own pension funds was considered heresy, so we got plenty of pushback from both the Company and the Investment professionals. Fortunately for all of us, Doug held his ground and the Company agreed to establish the first 100% vested, pilot managed Pension Plan in the Airline Industry - the INVEST (Individually Vested Equity and Securities Trust) PENSION PLAN FOR PILOTS.
Today, what began 40 years ago as our INVEST PLAN is now an integral part of virtually every industry wide ALPA contract and, shortly after T-Day, the INVEST model was adopted by Federal Express as the company wide Defined Contribution plan for ALL FedEX employees.
So next time you see that monthly INVEST deposit in your bank account, think fondly of Doug Happ – the man who helped make it happen.
Captain Frank Maquire
I could write for an hour about Doug Happ and it would all be positive. I know many will remember his calm demeanor regardless of the many hats he wore at Tigers or FedEx. Being in Crew Scheduling Doug always treated us with respect. Doug understood the nature of the business. You couldn’t find a kinder soul in the company. Doug also could bring a lighter side of him when it was needed. A great story teller and sharp wit. We were neighbors in Redondo Beach for 8 years before our move to Memphis. He would spoil my kids at Halloween so much with extra treats as he’d answer the door with one goofy costume or another. My one son asked me walking away, “does Mr Happ really fly big jets?” I’ll miss Doug at the reunions but weren’t we all lucky to have known him?
FTL #35085 FDX #97297
Doug with John Dickson, Jean-Claude Dimirdjian, and Erich Krueck at the annual Flying Tigers Club Dinner, 2022.
From a Fellow Rider
Doug and I, along with many other Tiger pilots, rode on some wonderful motorcycle trips together. One summer back in 2006 I was the young kid invited to tag along on a trip down to Baja and over to Copper Canyon with senior FTL Captains Happ, Nezgoda, Pendley, Swanson, Redditt, and Madison. He anointed us the "Magnificent Seven." The other ride was a beautiful one with Doug and Rory from Idaho up to Fairbanks and back down through Anchorage.
Doug was that person, and certainly the type of professional airman, that every pilot wanted to be like. A mentor to all, he was articulate, humorous, appreciative and sincere to everyone he knew. His valued friendship enriched my life and I will be forever grateful for that. Wishing you safe roads and smooth skies, Douggie. Join the others in the pack, we'll catch up soon.
Anyone else wishing to contribute to this page with archived pictures or testimonials is encouraged to contact us at email@example.comBack To Memorials