Flying Tiger Line
Pilots Association

John H. Michel

Let me tell you a little "Fate is the Hunter" story.

Back in 1966 I was twenty five and ten months into my first airline job, flying supplies into Vietnam for Slick Airways, flying the 1049H, from west coast military bases such as Norton and Travis, AFB's. Although I had been to Europe, traveling to S.E Asia and a war zone was exciting stuff.

Our flight plan itinerary was; Camhron Bay, Okinawa, Saigon. On our arrival in Okinawa, it was Christmas, I felt as though I was coming down with malaria, intense fevers/chills and the shakes, I begged off the flight and was replaced with another crew member. I reposed to my roach infested hotel room and wondered if I would see another morning.

As I awoke the next morning, to thankfully see the sun again, I was advised that my flight that night had crashed and all were lost. They experienced a mid air collision with a F-4 Phantoum at the outer marker in Saigon. They had made a good landing in a rice paddy, at night, but slid into an unseen dike...and 6000 gallons of aviation fuel ended their day.

Now thirty years later, to the day, I am in the FedEx flight operations room, Subic Bay, Phillipines. My First Officer is a retired USAF Lt. Col. We are checking weather and flight planning when I notice a fellow at another computer terminal with a name that I recognize from the distant past. We strike up a conversation and I ask him if he ever flew for X airline. He said no but I did fly for X,X, and X ailine, as we all did at some point. Then he said, "you know today, thirty years ago I was supposed to be the Navigator on a flight with X airline that crashed in Saigon. I said, my God, I did not know that you were scheduled on that same flight that I was to be on.

And here is where the story gets interesting. My First Officer, the Lt. Col.,had been listening in on our conversation. In near disbelief he said that on that night he had been returning from his first combat mission as a First Lt., flying wing on the fighter that had the mid-air with our airplane. Thankfully, his lead crew ejected successfully.

What are the odds...

What a great "life" ride. Wonderful people, I love you all for who you are. Wonderful aircraft, experiences, and a tradition of avaition family, I am truly humbled.

Capt. J. Michel

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