Thomas W. Fischer
Air Force flying set the direction for the
rest of my life's experiences. From our time together in single engines, it was a rather uninspiring two-year stint
in the C-119. After that, my wife, Gig, daughter Nan and I left Pope AFB for the real world. We headed back to Long Island and the job search. My objective while at Cornell was veterinary medicine with a brief interlude in the Air
Force. However that seemed a bit more difficult to accomplish with a wife, one child and another on the way. Second
best, but a good deal more fun was a career in Aviation Sales with Shell Oil.
That was my business for fifteen years- Aviation
Sales Manager, Southern Region, based in Atlanta, starting in 1962, with a staff of five sales people, flying a Beech
Baron, Twin Bonanza and a Cessna 172. We covered the Region from Washington
DC to Phoenix, calling on all volume purchasers, including airlines, airport dealers,
fleet operators, etc. of aviation fuels and lubricants.
The C-119 may have been a disappointing assignment, but
it served its purpose since the AF Reserve at Mitchell AFB, Long Island, NY, had them, and we lived only 15 minutes away so it was a natural to join, which started a long reserve/guard
career. When Mitchell closed in 1960, I transferred to the NY Air National Guard at Westchester County with the prospect of getting into F-86's, but the Guard management
had different plans. By the time I completed my paperwork, the Westchester ramp
was full of C-119's.
The transfer to Atlanta by Shell in 1962 took care of any more of the C119 flying, but things weren't much better there, since
the Reserve and Guard were flying C-97's and C-123's respectively. So I opted for the Reserve and the 123's for
the next three years. Then the Reserve converted to C-124's, and if I thought the other machines were bad, I hadn't
seen anything yet. So I resigned from the unit after a few rides, but they were persistent in their efforts to
get me back, so I returned in late 1967. Bad timing; the unit was activated January 1968 for 18
months. Shell put me on extended military leave and the unit started a primary mission of supplying Viet Nam and flying out-sized cargo for NATO. Between the two missions I got plenty of time
grinding my way to Southeast Asia and flying through Europe.
My family, which now consisted of my wife and two young daughters joined me for three months at RAF Mildenhall, which
was a wonderful opportunity for us to get a good look at a lot of Europe. Shell was glad to see me after
my release from active duty, and it was back to Avation Sales. It's hard to imagine a more pleasant job. Shell Aviation
employed several luminaries in the aviation field, such as Jimmy Doolittle, Douglas Bader, Roscoe Turner, Milt Hammon, to
name a few, and it was great fun to hear all their stories, and work with them. The airlines and fixed base operators were
also full of crusty old aviators.
But, all good things have to end, and the
Shell experience did just that when they asked me to come to Head Office, which had recently changed from NYC to Houston, a place my family and I agreed we did not want to live. After turning
down two such offers, I felt I had damaged my career with Shell, so I found other uses for my good high level contacts with
airlines and aviation clients. I joined Alexander & Alexander, the leading
aviation risk consultant and insurance broker. We stayed in Atlanta for the balance of my business career, which ended in 1996, when a competitor purchased A&A.
We now live a great life on a magnificent
nine-mile mountain lake in northeast Georgia, which
our four kids and five grandchildren visit regularly. Golf, fishing and a ski
trip or two a year keep me busy, along with a great deal of activist interest on the environmental issues of this beautiful
Thomas W. Fisher