Flying Tiger Line
Pilots Association

John F. Dickson

March 23, 2021

I was born in Southern California and began my career with Flying Tigers on July 31, 1978 as a flight crewmember based at LAX.  Becoming a professional pilot was a dream that I possessed since my first flight lesson at age 14 while being raised under the flight pattern of the Torrance Airport.  I built my flight hours as a young commercial pilot at Hawthorne Airport and LAX, attending CSULB at night where I earned a Business Administration degree.  My boyhood dream was finally realized at age 24 when Tigers hired me and I was checked out as a new Second Officer on the DC-8-63.  Quickly surpassing my passion for flying was the sudden exuberance found in being part of something so dynamic – the largest air cargo airline in the world at the time.  The Tiger Spirit was instantly instilled in me and has only grown stronger as time has passed.

Although not fully realized at the time, as often happens during unexpected disruptions in life, some of my most fulfilling years as a Flying Tiger came amidst the downturn in corporate profitability during the early 1980’s when I was furloughed as a pilot on April 1, 1982.  Captain Dick Wilson, VP of Operations, had directed all departments to place a priority on rehiring furloughed pilots into positions they might be qualified for.  I applied for a handful of openings at High Tiger and was hired as a Fuel Data Analyst in the Flight Planning Department on the 3rd floor.  Under the watchful eyes of Basil Pepper and Ken Bucklee, I worked closely with flight planners, crew planners, and managers within the charter department, and was exposed to a side of FTL that most line pilots never get to see.  More importantly I gained an appreciation for the close bond that existed among all employees who worked in headquarters, the Can Do attitude, the smiles and the warmth, and subsequently made many new life-long friends during my short tenure at a desk.

I was recalled as a pilot on April 1st, 1984.  For the next five years I flew in various seats on the DC8, B747, and B727 and was based in MCI, ORD, and JFK.  After T-Day, as a B747 First Officer, FedEx began selling aircraft, the New York crew base was closed, and I was transferred to Memphis to begin training as a DC10 First Officer.  I moved from Southern California to Tennessee to begin the second part of my career checking out as Captain on the B727, DC10, and MD11.  I retired from FedEx on December 31, 2016 after 38 ½ years of combined service.

I currently live with my wife, Jeanne, outside of Dallas, Texas and am the grandfather of four.  I’ve kept my passion for the Flying Tiger Line alive through participation in the Flying Tiger Line Pilots Association and the Flying Tiger Club.  In 2012 I was elected as President of FTLPA.  In 2019 I assumed the position of Museum Director for the Flying Tiger Club.

I consider it an honor to have a position with both associations and pledge my dedication to helping preserve the legacy of our great airline.  Like most of us, I will be forever grateful for the privilege of being a part of the Flying Tiger family.  I have devoted a significant amount of time in the past decade trying to ensure that recognition of our uniquely wonderful company continues for many more years to come.

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