October 19, 2012
By Alyssa J. Miller
Growing up in rural Kentucky, Albert Lee Ueltschi became fascinated with aviation at a young age, spurred by Charles Lindbergh’s trans-Atlantic flight. That passion and his entrepreneurial spirit led to him soloing at age 16 and later earning his pilot certificate, ultimately founding what has become a first-class worldwide training center: FlightSafety International.
Ueltschi, 95, died Oct. 18 at his home in Vero Beach, Fla.
Ueltschi flew for Pan American Airways before founding FlightSafety in 1951 at LaGuardia Airport to train corporate pilots. Since then, the company has expanded to establish Learning Centers in nearly 40 countries and provide more than 1 million hours of training annually. In addition to training, the company also supplies flight simulators.
Ueltschi received many accolades for his accomplishments in aviation, including being enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2001 and receiving the National Business Aviation Association’s American Spirit Award the same year.
“There are literally hundreds of Al Ueltschi stories out there, and he shared great wisdom with his young salespeople,” said AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg, who was hired by Ueltschi in the early 1980s at FlightSafety. “The company was growing like crazy and double digit growth was expected. Despite an occasionally gruff exterior, he had tremendous heart. He was supportive of the marketing team’s flying, and I literally flew all over the country in some ‘high mileage’ light aircraft to spread the gospel of pilot training. He left a huge imprint on most of us! It’s the end of an era.”
His support for employees was evident in a final message his family shared with FlightSafety employees after Ueltshi’s death. “Please tell his colleagues at FlightSafety that he will be eternally grateful to each and every one of them, past and present. He is very proud of FlightSafety and to carry on.”
AOPA Director of eMedia and Online Managing Editor Alyssa J. Miller has worked at AOPA since 2004 and is an active flight instructor.
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