Earning His Winglets

By Dave Nicholas

December 2016

Being in aerospace engineering for almost 20 years, I always enjoyed working on any Boeing metal. The way they looked to the way they flew, you always knew it was a Boeing.

I was the engineer for everything from the Boeing 727 to the big daddy of them all, the 747. My father-in-law was the chief pilot for the 747, and that really made me proud to be the one to endorse his aircraft before each of his flights. Really made us bond, as we weren't even in-laws yet. He knew that his aircraft was ready to go trouble-free for his flight. Never once did he experience an issue during any of his flights.

On his last flight before retiring, there was a delay to his aircraft due to a lightning strike that destroyed the winglet. As a memento of his career, I got a piece of that winglet and presented it to him on his retirement. That brought out the tears, that is for sure.

For years after his retirement, I took the same care and consideration with each and every flight that I endorsed, just as if it were my father-in-law flying. Between his 40 years of flying and my 20 in engineering, we have many stories to tell our kids.

Thank you, Boeing, for an amazing 100 years of aircraft and stories.