For half the entire history of flight, John Glatz has been safely keeping aircraft in the sky either behind the controls as a pilot or with a wrench as a mechanic.
Although he didn’t think he would live to see the day, the Federal Aviation Administration presented John A. Glatz, 90, with both the Wright Brothers Master Pilot and Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Awards on Jan. 31.
After being a safe pilot for 50 years, as well as a senior mechanic, Glatz earned two of the FAA’s most prestigious awards.
“It is very unusual to get two in one year,” said Dominick Gallo, Jr., who presented the awards on behalf of the FAA.
“He was very concerned he would not be alive long enough to receive these awards.”
But Glatz proudly accepted his awards at the Crosswinds Restaurant with friends looking on.
Longtime friends of Glatz said they consider him a mentor.
“He has always been available to offer advice and direction in my career,” wrote Ronald Williams, who has known Glatz for 53 years. “He is a definite leader in the field of aviation.”
Pilot John Knebel said he first met Glatz in 1941. Over the years, they kept in touch and followed each other’s careers. Glatz’s career included flying as an executive pilot and founding Executive Flight Ways in 1972.
The company provided trained pilots for business aircraft owners who did not have the expertise or desire to operate their own flight departments.
“John contributed hugely to the increased safety level of corporate aircraft flying when he pioneered the introduction of airline type air crew operations,” Knebel wrote.
“Executive Flight Ways maintained a core of flight crews and scheduling and dispatch offices decades before it became the norm.”
Pilot John Ruffcorn said Glatz gave him his first break by hiring him on as a co-pilot. At the time, Glatz was chief pilot for the Dean Milk Company, operating a Douglas A-26 based out of Chicago.
“He essentially taught me everything I know about flying high-performance aircraft through patient instruction and highly competent example,” Ruffcorn wrote.
Later in his career, Glatz became director of operations for Gould Inc., operating a fleet of corporate jets based out of Chicago O’Hare Airport.
Glatz also served as a mechanic, flight instructor and ground instructor for many years.
“John is a highly experienced pilot and instructor in all phases of aviation from very difficult to fly antique aircraft to many types of high-performance jet aircraft,” Ruffcorn said.
Glatz owned a plane from 1942 until November 2007, when he sold his last aircraft.
The Master Mechanic Award is named after Charles Taylor, the first aircraft mechanic in powered flight. Taylor served as the Wright brothers’ mechanic, according to the FAA Web site.
The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award is given to pilots that have 50 years of safe flight operations.
Some 30 pilots have received the Wright award in Arizona and 1,788 nationally.