My dad’s 50 years of flying

 

 

It’s going to be a huge day. My dad is celebrating his 50th anniversary at the Philippine Air Force Flying School in Fernando Air Base, Lipa, Batangas.

A milestone. The members of the Class of 1962 will be there with their families – all of us proud and honouring our dads who’ve had very interesting flying careers. But of course in my eyes, I will only be seeing my dad’s face marching among the many graduates of the Air Force. He is our hero, our star, our Superman. He flew. And he had superpowers.

Through the fifty years of his being a military pilot, he survived it not only with flying colours but with dignity and honour. I am proud to say that my dad is an honest man. I feel like I have to say it because this is a paragraph with the word “military” in it.

I will be emotional tomorrow. That’s a given. I’m a daddy’s girl.

But that’s not the only reason there will be tears. I am reminded of the dark period when my dad was a victim of a harsh system and an unfair judgement. His is a story you would never have heard about because his name wasn’t big enough to be of public interest. (Except now, his name is in Carlos Celdran’s Livin’ La Vida Imelda). My dad’s case wasn’t a scandal. It was an effect of 1986 but it wasn’t about politics. It was simply an administrative fiasco that had a huge effect in our lives. Like, we lost our country overnight. My dad lost his rank at the peak of his career. And from what I saw, he lost the sparkle in his eyes.

But my dad’s strength of character was unwavering. During the many years of feeling exiled in a foreign land, all he wanted was to go home and finish serving his country. He fought for his rights. It was complicated. A few people helped. In 1997, he accomplished his task. And I was beside him though the journey. He got what he wanted and deserved – his clean name with a clean conscience and even cleaner, empty pockets.

My dad officially retired from the Air Force with the rank of full Colonel with a humble plot of land he paid off during his career. No luxury vehicles. No mansion. Like I said… honest. And happy.

 

Dad, Air Force
In the early days of his active service in the military, my dad was a rescue pilot.

 

Dad, Air Force
He then flew as a helicopter pilot assigned to President Diosdado Macapagal. And he eventually stayed on in the presidential wing as helicopter pilot of President Ferdinand Marcos from the 60’s to 1983.

 

Dad, Air Force
Here’s one of his “superhero” photos taken in a rural area. I love old photographs.

 

Dad, Air Force
Another photo from the 1960’s. His military career was focused on flying helicopters. At one point he was the comptroller of 700th Special Mission Wing (Presidential). It was the 1970’s then, and they were acquiring many new aircrafts. Very exciting times for the young pilots.

 

My dad in a helicopter used in Korean War
This is the Sikorsky H-19 Chickasaw. It is now in the PAF Museum near Resorts World.

 

Presidential Pilots with IRM & FM in Baguio
The presidential pilots with First Lady Imelda Marcos and President Marcos.

 

First Lady inaugurating the Puma (helicopter)
This was in the early 80’s. First Lady Imelda Marcos inaugurating the new PUMA helicopter.

 

My dad and Sammy Davis Jr
Dad got to fly heads of states and royalty (seriously). And other famous visitors like Sammy Davis Jr. In the background, Elvira Manahan.

 

Dad, Air Force
Dad as a civilian pilot in Canada.

 

Dad, Air Force
This photo brings us back to 1962, on the day when a young man from Quezon Province achieved his childhood dream of becoming a pilot. He did that… and more.

 

Some of the dads didn’t make it out of the Air Force. Mine did.

And he got the sparkle back in his eyes.

That’s a big gift. Thank you God.

 

 

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