Flying Tiger Line
Pilots Association

Robert L. Baird


I was hired in early 1965,I had 430 hours SEL and a wet instrument ticket it was so new. I had been an FAA ATC at OAK Center prior, and Don Saunders said even if I could not fly I could copy a clearance! little did I know I was in the so called "Golden Class", no furloughs, early upgrades ( for most). Lucky beats smart a lot of the time! Schooled on the Connie and again lucky as Oakley was my flight instructor and put up with some amazing flying, or lack of, on my part! After a short time on the line, off to Burbank for Cl-44 school. Two weeks into the ground school I decided ( well, it had been decided for me!) to skip the next three years of heavy transport flying for 3 years flying for the US Army, first as a gun Helicopter pilot in vietnam, then a Helo IP. I came back to Tigers in '68 to find the DC-8-63 was capable ot taxiing faster then flying the training Helos I had just left! The fun trips for me but not my Captains I am sure were the ORD-CLE legs where at arrival I
was still just departing ORD many times!
In '71 checked out in the left seat as had just got my required 2000 hrs as a FO.I flew the Eight for the next 10 years and then moved on to the 74. I flew that airplane until it retired from Fedex and when it left so did I as I had no desire to finish my career ( I was pushing 59 at the time) in a new airplane. In retrospect maybe I should have done the last year as I found I really missed the people, the flying, and the trips. What I don't miss are the 073 departures LAX-SFO-ANC at 0100 after being up at least all day and never getting the clock reset for the rest of the 10 day trip. It's still not reset. I continued to fly military Helos until they too decided they had seen enough of me, so gone at 60.
I had to give up flying my RV4 about 3 years ago due to nerve damage for which  pain meds keep me from renewing my Class 3. I could do the LSA thing but decided not too at this point. I study military history as a hobby and did a short tour with the ER Army ROTC Department teaching same but that was years ago. My wife and I do some travelling and as of this date have had to pre-plan that as have another ( 3 year old) mutt rescued a little over a year ago. Some people never learn. Good Dog!
Tigers was unique and all of us are among the most fortunate in the aviation world to have been a part of it. I think of some event and the people involved many times a week, for this is what memories are all about. Fair winds and safe journeys to all.

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