Christmas Eve was a sad day for Chicago and the Airshow Industry. Our good friend Rudy Malnati passed away after a long battle with cancer. The Chicago Sun Times did a fitting obituary.
RIP Rudy Malnati
Lou Drendel wrote the following tribute to Rudy for our book “Lima Lima”. It is an accurate description of the importance of Rudy’s friendship for the team. Though they hint at the personal feelings many of us felt for Rudy, they don’t begin to express how important he was to so many others in and out of the air show world. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.
Rudy Malnati deserves special mention because over the course of several years he became a team sponsor and personal friend to many team members. Rudy took over the Chicago Air & Water Show when Al Benedict retired. Rudy had trained under Al at the Chicago Park District, so he was intimately familiar with how the show should run, and how it had run. The show is now run by the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, where Rudy also works on other special Chicago events. He is also the founder of the Pizanos chain of Chicago restaurants. When he took over for Al, Rudy kept most of the key players from Al’s cadre and used them to also inaugurate the first Gary Air Show and the first Las Vegas Air Show. He hired us to perform in these shows and kept us coming back to the Chicago Air & Water Show, year after year. When he needed someone to fly over a parade or a civic celebration, such as the Bulls Championship rallies, or the Olympic Torch Celebration, Rudy called on Lima Lima. We became what Rudy termed: “The House Team”. In our darkest hours, after the Evans crash, Rudy drove out to Aurora on a Friday night with us, commiserating, advising, and encouraging a team that was in shock. He advised to; “Keep Flying….Stay Together”. This was not business advice, this was psyche-saving advice from a friend……maybe the best friend the Lima Lima Flight Team ever had.
It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that our good friend and former team member J.O. Martin has flown West. J.O. passed away Sunday, December 12. Up until a week ago he was still playing golf and tennis at age 93. J.O. was a retired United Airlines Captain, and a USAF Pilot. He flew the DC-10 for United and the T-6, T-28, T-33, F-80, F-84, F-86F and the F-86L for the USAF. He was also an ardent golfer, skier and tennis palyer. He flew the number three position on the flight team from 1994 through 1997.He is survived by his wife Arlene and two daughters.
Blue skies and tail winds J.O.
Mark is an aviation attorney and a Managing Partner of Tressler LLP, a national law firm based in Chicago. Mark has dedicated his career to aviation related legal work, representing pilots, FBO’s, maintenance facilities, airlines, aviation insurers, and other aviation related enterprises. Mark resides at Naper Aero (LL10), the Illinois airpark where the Lima Lima Flight Team was founded. Mark served as the Airport Board President at Naper Aero from 2007 to 2012, having previously served as President of the Naperville Flying Club – a longstanding flying club based at the field. In addition to performing with the Lima Lima Flight Team, Mark flies his T-34 for charity rides to benefit veterans and the disabled. Mark has lived at Naper Aero since 2003 with his wife Lisa, where they raised their three adult children – Mark Jr, Alexis and Benjamin. Mark’s T-34 (LL34 – N244RF) is regularly spotted in the skies over the greater Naperville area and is well known and enjoyed by the local community.
We lost our good friend and airshow pilot Peter Jacobs to Covid last week. Peter was one fine gentleman and deserves the missing man formation from the Lima Lima Flight Team.
Mount Rushmore was just one of many national monuments that the Lima Lima Flight Team had the privilege to fly over.
I guarantee you that you will not see a seven ship formation landing very often. (Probably never again due to increased safety standards). This shot was taken from Skip Aldous’s number seven aircraft while landing at Oshkosh just before the actual airshow started. We had just completed a photo shoot with renowned air-t-air photographer Paul Bowen. The way this landing works is that the the number seven (last) aircraft touches down on the “numbers” and lets the lead know that he is down and under control. Then the the slot aircraft lands with numbers five and six on his wing. He announces to lead that they are down and under control at which time the lead lands with numbers two and three on his wing. This of course requires a long runway, a very thorough briefing and rock solid formation pilots. I strongly recommend that you do not try this at home!
Michael Marco has been flying with the team for over two years. He was recently married to Allison (Leeward) who knows just a little bit about the aviation community. The wedding picture from left to right :
Roger Fritzler, Michael Marco, Skip Aldous, Allison Marco and Jimmy Burke. Welcome to the team Allison!
This picture was taken in December of 2019 at the International Council of Air Shows convention in Las Vegas in front of the Lima Lima booth. From left to right: John Rippinger (former team member), Jimmy Burke (our newest team member), Skip Aldous (team leader) and Roger Fritzler (a five year team member
|Frank “Nordo” Fastner Has Gone West Frank “Nordo” Fastner flew West on October 2, 2019. He is survived by his wife Thelma of Wildwood TN. The best description of Frank was by Lou Drendel in his book “The Lima Lima Flight Team.”|
Frank is a retired electrical engineerand ex USAF weatherman, who analyzed thunderstorms by penetrating them in a P-61 Black Widow. He is an avid out-doorsman who takes an annual solo hike into the Rockies for a week of contemplation. He has been flying for over fifty years,accumulating over 4000 hours in a variety of aircraft. Frank has flown the T-34 for over 20 years and is a charter member of the team and Mentor Flyers.Frank has so many flying stories from his over 4000 hours of adventures, that he has numbered them. Despite his impressive intellectual credentials, Frank never seemed to be able to master the audio panel, hence his call sign; “NORDO” (No Radio)
Blue skies and tailwinds my friend.
This is the time of year when the pilots and families of the Lima Lima Flight Team traditionally extend our warmest holiday greetings to all of our friends, fans, sponsors and airshow promoters. Without your continued support we would not be going into our 33rd year in the airshow business. Thanks again and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!