American Sky: Fred Tribuzzo
The world looks different from the cockpit of a plane or even as a passenger looks out of the window during takeoff or in flight. The sky is your highway and the clouds look like traffic signs or even roadblocks as the pilot operates the controls, deals with the turbulence, altitude and makes sure that his instruments are working even before taking off. Preflight check done, on the runway waiting for clearance to go airborne you can feel the excitement in the passengers and hope that the pilot is ready and alert for what lies ahead. A limitless highway with so many ways to go and infinite places to travel yet the pilot needs a map, navigation instruments and much more in order to safely arrive at his destination. Fred Tribuzzo has flown planes all of his live. He flew as it says in his bio on the back cover international for eight years on a corporate Boeing 737. His story is unique. His experiences exciting as the author takes readers up and inside the American Sky with his passengers, crew, flight instructors, father and friends on journey to places many of us might never visit, know about and see. Beginning with an emergency first flight landing and the tension, stress and hyperventilating of his student and the end result giving all those on the ground a good laugh. The author begins with this first lesson in flying safety and what happens when the engine fails. Heart stopping at the beginning as the author tells about his experiences in his early twenties beginning with the owner of a popular bar wanting young people to refrain from using bad language. How refreshing! He introduces readers to Frank Corbi his mentor and the man he worked for who guided him and his student through the emergency landing. Flying and Hunting followed by a story about his Uncle Gus where he tells about his first solo flight after his Uncle’s Death. Hearing his Uncle’s voice in his head: You’ve Got to Have Guts: was the impetus he needed to overcome this first challenge and solo. But, how would you the reader experience this without reading Chapter Four and meeting Tina is instructor at Chagrin Falls Airport. Learning how to deal with difficult people such as the chief and relating how Tina prepared him for his first solo is exciting, entering the cockpit, handling a simulated emergency and then success. We meet and learn about many pilots such as Tom Cole, and Sal. Sal crewed a single engine, two hunger and fifty horsepower Piper Comanche. Hearing the author’s voice discussing weather conditions and altitude our next flight along with the author was the Allegheny Mts. Imagine being more than 6000 feet high. Fear, danger, anxiety and finally the aircraft gripping the sky made it all worth while for our author and pilot as he handled each emergency and each part of the flight in a meticulous and careful manner. Miller Field and his friendship with Frank Corbi are related in Chapters 6 and 7.
Chapter 8 is really exciting as the reader will learn what expensive aircraft Jack Mellon was about to purchase and why. Flying a Cessna, losing his fear, handling the complexities and taking it up you can feel the rush; the excitement and then Chapter 9, which will make you, smile. Imagine a young boy wanting to be a pilot from an early age and creating paper wings that he attaches to himself to fly. Read Chapter 9 and take the flight with Fred and fly those paper wings to safety. Aztec Sacrifice, returning to Miller field, flying with Alan and Mario and listening to the conversation of two brothers as they reveal information about a man named McCormick whose ability to know his limit only comes when he finds it. McCormick as so many others considered flying his life, the sky is home and the pilots his family. Having to visit their homes in case they forget a book or to relay a message to them was part of his job. By the end of the mid 80’s he was teaching English and using his advanced degree that he paid for himself.
Hearing his perspective about pilots, how they move among strangers, and dealing with passengers, wanting to keep everyone happy and of course safe, helps readers realize the magnitude of their job. All too often his mind wanders while sitting next to a passenger or flight attendant and he begins to think of a lush valley or even a path of a river. Each chapter brings a new phase in his life and his career. The chapters often flash back and forth within different decades and years as we learn about heart warming flight to surprise a couple on a special day. With their destination set it became apparent that Fred and his crew would have to do some fancy thinking, flying and coordinating to pull of this amazing surprise. From his years as a commercial pilot flying from Sal’s Comanche to Corbi’s twin the excitement never ends and the journeys endless.
Fred has a way with a camera and reading Mecca of the Americas you learn more about his talent the pictures he took in Mexico and you are invited to come along with him as we learn about Mexico, the customs and a man named Carl.
Stories that Alan Corbi shared with him from the road and describing the clouds, the towns, and the friends along the way, his is more than just a memoir of experiences but of different philosophies of life, dealing with personalities and remembering good friends. The Chapter about South Florida was really interesting as he met a young co-pilot named Pedro and spent time with his family and learned a new meaning of the word acceptance of family. If you want to know what that was read the chapter because every mystery needs to be solved by the reader.
Imagine having a relative that met and gave the Wright Brothers a hand. That would be exciting and memorable as his friend Chris relates. Chris’s uncle was part of a life-saving station, an early version of the Coast Guard. His job was to scan the sea for boats that had run aground. So, when the Wright Brothers needed help pulling the Wright Flyer out of a makeshift hangar they would put potted plant in the window. When that happened you will never believe what they did. Read it and find out!
The bulk of the end of the book focuses on this time and friendship with Frank Corbi. The author wisely carried a tape recorder and camera in order to have his words to listen to and the pictures of the events that he would cherish forever. Reminding readers about how he feels and felt about a perfect landing in Chapter 37, taking his father up for a run and doing a great job. The most compelling chapter was the one where Frank shares his time as a prisoner of war and you get to understand what these men went through at the hands of the Japanese and the cruelties they endured. But, Frank was a survivor and would never give up. As simple as making one of the Japanese stand down when he tried to take away his ring. Learning about the POW’s, the survivors and the history of many of the planes, the reader gets to understand and learn not only about aviation, the stress of that pilots endure but the passion and love of flying that not only was and is imbedded in the author but so many others too. Sharing his relationship with his father in law, Frank’s family and his own wife Sue, helps readers to get to know him even better.
Everyone has one Doctor they love and when he told about his I reflected and remembered mine. His doctor retired and mine died in a tragic way. Frank survived POW camp, fixing cars, aircrafts and in life in general. He never gave up and if he had it in him and was allowed to have one more round at life he would never change. The ending of the book brought a smile to my face as his car was stocked with tons of stuff that he really didn’t need from Sam’s Club. My Aunt Tova would do the same and her backroom when she died had enough paper goods to last for over five years and much more. |
Sharing time with Alan at the end was truly touching and what he says is so enlightening: I love when he states that if he could be nice to one person he would be happy. When talking to one of his nurses he wanted to bring patience into her life.
Although his two best friends are no longer there to preflight the Skyhawk or go on along on long trips, the memory and spirit will linger forever and the aviation community will never forget them.
This is a book that will make you smile, laugh, cry and even want to try out your own wings (not paper of course) and fly. To anyone that wants to become pilot, mechanic or work in this field read this book first and you will get an education that you won’t forget.
Fran Lewis: Reviewer
Let’s dedicate this to the memory of Frank and Alan and all those who keep us safe to fly across our magnificent American Sky.