April 8, 1934 - March 8, 2021
We are sorry to report that Captain Bill Lawbaugh, 84, flew west on March 8th from respiratory complications while in a hospital in Las Vegas. Bill was hired by Tigers on July 2, 1962, spent many years in the training department and in management, and continued his career after T-Day as a FedEx Captain. He leaves behind his wife, Maria, a former FTL flight attendant. Condolences can be sent to her at 2812 Sterling Cove, Las Vegas, NV 89128-7729
The following comes from retired Capt. Joe Brenner, the author of "The Mighty Tiger"
After twenty years of waiting, I finally won a 747 captain’s bid, and so I was set up for my upgrade.
I deem the fact that I was assigned Captain Bill Lawbaugh as my instructor pilot a stroke of immense good fortune. Bill was tough. He was a demanding instructor and nobody’s pushover. He had a very clear idea in his mind of what constituted acceptable performance. I have even seen him go toe to toe in the simulator with an FAA inspector who wanted to down another man for some nitpicking reason or other. Whereas many another instructor pilot would have backed down and accepted the inspector’s ruling, Lawbaugh never did. He was right. He knew it, and he didn’t give up until he prevailed.
When I received my training, it was a stiff workout. There was no nonsense. Each period was crammed, utilized to the fullest possible extent. You were always doing something difficult.
If memory serves, each captain upgrade candidate received ten periods of simulator instruction, then his check ride.
When I had completed my ten periods, Bill told me that he was putting me in for one additional period of training. He wanted to assure himself that something I was doing wrong was corrected. (That’s another reason I admired Bill; he was one of the few instructors who would argue for an extra period of training or so if he deemed it necessary to get the pilot through. He took it as a personal affront if one of his students busted his check ride). Other instructors would have just given the man his ten periods, and cut him loose. Sink or swim.
I thanked Bill for his concern but told him that I knew what I was doing now and therefore didn’t need another period. So he set me up for my check ride.
Came the great day, I was standing outside the simulator when the FAA examiner showed up. Noticing that I happened to be smiling to myself, he asked what I was smiling about. I said that I was going up for my 747 type ride; this was the greatest day in my life.
The examiner’s response surprised me, for he said, “Yeah, and anyone who doesn’t think so hasn’t any business being a pilot.”
Anyway, thanks to Bill’s thorough instruction, my check ride went well, and I became a 747 captain.— Joe Brenner
Anyone else wishing to contribute to this page with archived pictures or testimonials about Bill is encouraged to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.orgBack To Memorials