Fred George still remembers the excitement of his first flight at age three, when his father, a World War II US Naval officer and newly minted private pilot, sat him on his mother’s lap in the back seat of a war surplus Vultee BT-13 Valiant and took him flying around the San Fernando Valley. That ignited his life-long passion for flying. His father also nurtured his ambition of becoming a Naval Aviator, a dream Fred realized two years after graduating from UCLA. After earning his Wings of Gold in April 1971, he landed a slot flying F4J Phantoms at NAS Miramar. He went on to make three WESTPAC cruises and log more than 300 carrier landings.
Hoping to land an airline pilot job, he left the Navy in 1977. His timing was awful, as the airlines were beginning a nosedive. So, he changed career paths to business aviation and earned his ATP. He flew Learjet charters and taught in Cessna Citations for a small southern California company. But it went broke in three years.
Again, he changed career paths, this time to aviation journalism. He knew nothing about writing, but he loved flying. Writing, at first, was simply a means to an end, an expedient route to the left seat. Then came feedback about his wordsmith skills, sometimes encouraging, frequently stinging, always opportunities for growth. He vowed to make his next report better than the last. Soon his mission became clear: Do his best to take others along where they couldn’t go themselves, share his experiences vicariously, explain the good and the bad about the airplanes, help others make informed choices.
Fred’s pilot reports eventually would earn an international following, encouraging his employers, Flying Magazine, Aviation Week and Business & Commercial Aviation, among others, to give him more challenging assignments. That opened the doors and canopies of more than 230 aircraft during the next four decades.
Finally, his personal revelation. His best reward isn’t just flying new and exciting aircraft. It’s sharing each new journey with the world.
Fred and his wife Lynda Sands, JD, MBA, live in Central Oregon.