I wanted to introduce you all to a person who has had a tremendous impact throughout the aviation industry and on me as an individual.
On a global level, he has been a driving force for aviation safety. As a college instructor, he has been a positive influence and an inspiration to thousands of aviation students for many years. This is a man who has always put the concerns of others before his and has never sought the recognition he so richly deserves.
As president of a major aviation association, he travels the world meeting with aviation industry leaders. He walks the walk of aviation safety and awareness, urging countries around the world to implement better safety measures. From the European Union to the Middle East to Southeast Asia, he is literally saving lives by encouraging country after country to adopt new measures of aviation safety. The standards he is implementing keep the problems of today from becoming the aviation accidents of tomorrow.
Back home, he is an educator. He is not any old teacher, not someone who is content to read from the book and pass that off as "teaching". He brings into the classroom real-world examples and real-life experiences that drive home the material. In his aviation law classes, you conduct mock trials based on real cases. In his management class, you role-play as managers and union members. With the information brought to life like this, it's easy to absorb and even easier to see how it relates to life in the real world.
Most of the air traffic control graduates from Miami Dade College have had him as an instructor, and many call him the best faculty member in the aviation department. A pilot, an aviation writer, a dispatcher, and an aviation photographer, you'd be hard pressed to find a person more passionate about aviation than he is. His wealth of aviation knowledge, his concern for each student's well-being, and his guidance have set many students on their way to a successful career in aviation. His enthusiasm for flight and the aviation industry is simply infectious.
For me, he has had a profound impact on my life. He taught me the values of honesty and respect for others, lessons I learned the hard way throughout my youth. Many of my interests began with him, including my love of aviation, my interest in technology, and my appreciation for the history of our country and our world. I have many fond memories of far off places and air shows from around the world.
Because of what this man has given throughout his life I have never wanted for anything, and because of that I find it hard to ask for anything from anyone. Through him, I have seen what hard work truly is. Years ago, he put himself through law school while working the midnight shifts at Eastern airlines as the head of their dispatcher operations. Later on, he did the work of three people as a college assistant dean. And today, he is constantly on the move, teaching six classes and finding time in between them all to truly make a difference in the aviation community. Through all that, not only did he provide for his family but he found time to be with them.
This man is always one of the first people I call when something major happens in my life. When I got my pilot's license, he was the first person I told after my wife. When I took my first flight as private pilot-in-command, he was my first passenger (and safety pilot...and brave soul). Last week, when I talked to my first airplane ever, I couldn't wait to call him and let him know. Whenever I get checked out on my first sector, he will be the one I call first.
This man makes me want to be the best person I can be. I never want to disappoint him and I always want to make him proud.
This man is my father.
Happy birthday, Papi.
I love you and miss you, and wish I could be there with you.
4 days ago