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Yearly Archives: 2021
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.