December 2016

ED Wegel Now At AVI8:

AVi8 Air Capital was formed by Ray Sisson and Ed Wegel to become the next
major aircraft leasing platform. They determined that there is a consolidation trend among the major leasing companies, and therefore the need and the opportunity for a new leasing company that can take advantage of the current aircraft finance/airline order position environment, as well as the ability to provide good solid risk adjusted current returns to investors.

AVi8 will invest strategically in a commodity of narrow body and wide body
aircraft, with good geographic and credit diversity. AVi8 will be a partner for
manufacturers by identifying and supporting new airline customers' fleet growth, and airlines by financially supporting their aircraft acquisitions and dispositions to optimize fleet efficiency, as well as other lessors by acquiring portfolios of on lease aircraft thereby enabling them to manage exposure, portfolio age, and geographic/credit/asset exposures.

The Founders are recruiting a very highly experienced team to manage the
company, initially outsourcing many of the back office functions required by
leasing companies until scale is reached. Their Team: Raymond C. Sisson, Executive Chairman, Ed Wegel, CEO and Steven Tingey, Chief Investment Officer Ray Sisson is a Co-Founder and Executive Chairman at AVi8 Air Capital. He is also a member of the Board of Advisors for the transport investments of Hudson Structured Capital Management. Mr. Sisson was formerly President and Chief Executive Officer of AWAS from 2010-2016. At the time of Mr. Sisson’s departure, AWAS was a leading, global aviation leasing company with a fleet of over 300 aircraft worth over $12.5 billion, serving over 110 airlines in 49 countries.

Mr. Sisson served in several leadership positions at GE Capital Aviation
Services (GECAS) from 1995-2008 including SVP and General Manager for the
Middle East, Africa and Russia region. He also has served as President & CEO of Titan Aviation Leasing and as Chief Commercial Officer of SR Technics. Mr.
Sisson started his career in New York as a corporate lawyer specializing in aircraft finance. Mr. Sisson holds an MBA from the University of Chicago, a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, and a BA in Economics from Bucknell University.

Ed Wegel is a Co-Founder and the CEO of AVi8 Air Capital and has over 30
years of experience in the airline industry, investment banking and aviation
finance. He has been the architect of several major aircraft purchase orders with Boeing, Embraer and Mitsubishi Aircraft. Mr. Wegel joined AVi8 Air Capital from Eastern Air Lines Group where he was founder and served as its President and CEO.

Under his direction Eastern grew to a fleet of six modern 737-800 aircraft within months. He also led negotiations leading to the orders for 10 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and 20 new Mitsubishi MRJ-90 aircraft. Prior to Eastern, Mr. Wegel was President, CEO and a Director of Chautauqua Airlines/U.S. Airways Express. While at Chautauqua, he originated an order, and structured and raised the equity, for the acquisition of 80 Embraer aircraft.

Mr. Wegel also served as President,
COO and a Director of BWIA International Airways and was a co-founder and member of the board of directors of Atlantic Coast Airlines (United Express). Mr. Wegel began his career in investment banking and was a Vice President in the investment banking/restructuring division of Lehman Brothers where he worked on several major airline restructurings and ran Lehman's portfolio of 75 commercial jet aircraft. Mr. Wegel graduated from the United States Military Academy, West Point and received his MBA in Finance from the University of Northern Colorado.

Steven Tingey’s career has focused on the transportation and energy generation distribution sectors, with an emphasis on large ticket and cross-border leasing. Prior to joining AVi8, he served as Chief Investment Officer for SKY Leasing, focused on the capital raise with the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP) and establishment of the headquarters office in Dublin, Ireland. Prior to SKY he worked in the portfolio management and trading areas of AWAS in Dublin, an aircraft leasing company backed by the private equity firm Terra Firma and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).

Steven was also a managing
director at Bank of America Leasing Ireland and acted as portfolio manager for the bank’s international aviation portfolio of over 700 aircraft. His responsibilities included serving as a marketing officer in the bank’s U.S. operations, covering origination, trading and restructuring activities for the transportation and energy leasing segments, which compromised a significant part of the overall $38 billion international lease portfolio. Steven holds a B.S. from University of Oregon and is a CFA charter holder.

Amazing Discovery…Flight Recorders Found Thirty-One Years Later - Operation Thonapa

Recap of the Expedition By Dorothy C. Gagnon, EARA Editor


Dan Futrell, former Airborne-Ranger, and Isaac Stoner named their Expedition after the Incan god of knowledge, “Operation Thonapa” to find the Black Box of Eastern Flight 980. They started out this trip with the goal of finding the Black Box, the Cockpit Voice Recorder and the Flight Data recorder. Finally, they did what they came to do…but is it enough I wonder?

Researching and climbing up and down mountains is not an easy task, but the one thing that keeps you going, the adrenaline that keeps driving you to move, the energy you keep trying to put into your body for another step, no stopping until you find all the pieces of what you came to do, this is what kept these researchers going. They both had a goal! Then all of a sudden…has that time arrived now? A recap of their Expedition below.


Day 1: They started out on day one, and found a roll of magnetic tape, maybe from a flight recorder, but also maybe home videos from someone’s luggage. They are hopeful that it is a little readable on the deteriorated roll, but time will tell. On searching the lower debris field near Mina Mesa Khala, they found two pieces of metal, both of which were significantly mangled, twisted, and scratched. Could it be from the Boeing 727 flying into the mountain at 500 mph; the metal that fell 4000 feet down from the impact site to the base of Illimani, or the natural grinding of ice and boulders that make up that living mountain?

Day 2:  They found three more pieces of metal that matched the first two — orange on one side, green on the other. Still, they’re not sure.

Day 3: The writing on the cable casing confirmed on day three that they had been finding pieces of the recorders for the previous three days. None of the other pieces of metal had writing on the outside as expected. Their search seemed endless and temperatures died down a few degrees to give some relief, but they wondered should they or shouldn’t they go on. Though their decision was to go back, they still had their work to do. Recap; re-check every item out over and over, again, and again.

Something was different, wait…this piece they just turned over was orange, just like the previous five pieces, and it had cables sticking out of it. On a plastic wrapping around the cables was the writing “CKPT VO RCDR”.  This is it! This piece confirmed that they had found what they were looking for, and that the previous five pieces located were also part of the recorders. This discovery immediately changed their spirits. They accidentally did the thing they have worked so hard to do. All six pieces of the flight recorders, plus a roll and many fragments of tape were put into a Ziploc bag. They are hopeful this tape will still hold some information that may be useful.

There is more work they have to do, but for now they have done what they set out to do: located and recovered the recorders of Eastern Airlines, Flight 980. Now they have to wait to hear of future developments that may have come out of that discovery. Did the tape have anything significant? Time will tell!

Note: More items may be seen on the story of their discovery at their website. However they have requested photos not to be shown in any news media, therefore I have not shown any of their discoveries in this article recapping their Expedition.  Visit their website for more photos at:

2016 2nd Annual Eastern Airlines Pioneers Reunion and Celebration

Friday, October 23, Saturday, & Sunday, October 24, 2016

       By Captain Neal Holland & Dorothy Cronin Gagnon

EARA President Michael Zall and Vice President, Vito Borrelli also donated and surprised us all by bringing some fantastic Airline Passes as prizes to raffle off. Bob Murphy went around and laid free Raffle tickets onto every attendee’s dinner plate.


Michael took photos of all the winners that received the Eara gifts that he and Vito so generously brought for the ‘free” raffle that evening.  Vito explained that according o the Airline rules EAL pensioned members only were eligible to fly. When tickets were called and Vito handed out the Airline RT Travel Passes, any non-pensioned person that was chosen won instead the “Wings of Man” Book by Vito Borrelli and Roland Moore. We were ecstatic with their generosity.

The Winners of the RT Free airline passes were: Mindy Lang F/A of the EAL Group, who gave her Jet Blue passes up to Conni Kerrigan; Beverly LaPointe - Silver Airways; Diane Mittelstaedt - West Jet Airline; Marie Borrelli, Alaska Airlines; Gail Rothrock, Frontier Airlines, Bob Thomas Alaska Airlines, and Don Gagnon, Silver Airlines. The “Wings of Man” Book was won by Omar Ensiso, Guest; Terry Pentecost of the EAL Group; Penny Jessup, Guest; and Gary Murphy, Guest.

2016 2nd Annual Eastern Airlines Reunion Dinner Banquet

 Saturday, October 24, 2016

By Captain Neal Holland and Dorothy Cronin Gagnon   


The Old Eastern Meets the New Eastern:

Harriet Johnston Goodman, EAL original 1955 Flight Attendant uniform, Wendy Stoll,  Mark Harding & Mindy Lang, EAL Group FA's.

A highly successful and very memorable event was held for our 2nd Annual Eastern Airlines Pioneers Reunion and Celebration at the Embassy Suites Seventeenth Street, Fort Lauderdale, Fl. Former Eastern Captain and Host, Neal Holland, with Don Gagnon and me as Co-host. Neal welcomed our members.  Don is giving everyone a moment for a silent Prayer for our EAL Members who passed away and for our Military service personnel. Then Emre Martinelli, our friend in the Eastern Family, held the American flag for the Pledge of Allegiance.


The event was honored with Eastern Retirees, their families and friends. We were also joined by our family of the EAL Group. Our own Harriet Johnston Goodman, slim as ever, looked fantastic. We were so proud to see that EAL original 1955 Eastern Airlines F/A uniform…with cap, shoes and bag! Then the F/As of the EAL Group , Wendy Stoll, Mark Harding and Mindy Lang came with their uniform and looked marvelous. 


A scrumptious dinner was served from a menu we chose of; Sliced Sirloin of Beef with Au Jus Sauce, Parmesan Crusted Breast of Chicken with Garlic Supreme Sauce, or a 3rd choice of Miso Glazed Salmon; vegetables, potatoes etc. complemented the entree, including the dessert of a delicious Cheesecake.


Captain Neal opened up the first part of our evening by introducing our Sponsor Homestead Funding, Debbie Denman & Kerry Koehler. Then Captain Neal spoke on behalf of our sponsor of the EAL Radio Show, REPA and then introduced the speakers and honored guests at the head table.


Conni Kerrigan, the  President of the Intl. Silverliners, is shown with her niece, Samantha Foster. The beautiful dressed lady in orchid our 92 years old former EAL F/A, and Past President of the Silverliners, Beverly Bennis. Her daughter, Patty Bennis McLean is also a former EAL F/A, and Past President of the Silverliners joined by Charles Hutchens and Cheryl Kaprezak.

The next photo is Chuck Allbright joined by Joan Gagnon Nunez and Don Gagnon. We can see Larry LaPointe in the background with Beverly, Mark, Omar Ensiso and Mindy Lang. Neal, Emre and are missing and busy getting ready for our upcoming Honoring of Vito and Captain Wilbur.

The enthusiasm and sincere congratulations and thanks were given to our 2 honored guests for their courage and fortitude to the Eastern Family. There were times during this event that the stories told brought tears flowing from every table for such emotion. Read the other articles in this issue to see all the tributes being made and honors finally given to such distinguished men. We want to thank each and every one there for sharing this honor with us and being the Eastern Family that we know and love.

June 2016 - NEWSLETTER
America by Air – Eastern Falcon Airplane

Exhibition at the Smithsonian Museum

by Dorothy C. Gagnon,

Host EAL Radio Show

Flying was new and daring in the early years of the 20th century. Traveling by airplane was rare. Airlines, airliners, airports, air routes—none of these existed. But by century's end, you could travel to almost anywhere in America by air in a matter of hours. How did this revolutionary change happen?

America by Air explores the history of air transportation in the United States and shows how the federal government has shaped the airline industry, how improvements in technology have revolutionized air travel, and how the flying experience has changed. Highlights include a Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor, Boeing 247, and DC-3 airliners; a cockpit simulation of an Airbus A320; and a nose from a Boeing 747 jumbo jet that you can enter.



Pitcairn PA-5 Mailwing

The Pitcairn PA-5 Mailwing was designed to carry air mail along the routes of the eastern United States. Efficient and economical, it helped build the route structure for what would ultimately become Eastern Air Lines.

The Mailwing NC-2895, on exhibit in this gallery, was built in 1927 and was the prototype for a series of Pitcairn mail planes. It combined a square-steel-tube fuselage with wooden wings, both covered by fabric. After it became obsolete as a mail plane, this airplane served several private owners, survived a crash, and saw use as a crop-duster. More information: Pitcairn PA-5 Mailwing or: Ford 5-AT Tri-Motor



A new group has made the trek up Mt. Illimani to search for Flight 980.  Go to this URL address "" and click the "Waliki, Waliki, mas alto"

Make you Reservations NOW for the 2nd Annual Eastern Airlines Pioneers Reunion at the Embassy Suites Ft Lauderdale - September 23rd and 24th.


A new group has made the trek up Mt. Illimani to search for Flight 980.  Go to this URL address "" and click the "Waliki, Waliki, mas alto"

April  2016 - NEWSLETTER

Article by Dorothy Gagnon   The Boeing Company is celebrating the Centennial year in 2016.  A special honor is given to them by the Museum of Flight who has an unrivaled collection of artifacts, images and documents to present their dramatic story.  During 2016, the year of its centennial which actually began January 23, the Museum of Flight is recognizing this celebration and enhancing their Exhibit with public lectures, films and other presentations that focus on Seattle and popular culture during the past century.

Obviously, the Boeing aircraft and artifacts will be highlighted throughout the Museum campus, and most galleries will offer a fun new exhibit focusing on the Company. Some displays were photos from their original office. A unique Antique Model car was sitting in front of the office giving the felling of being back in the early days

A Boeing P-26 Peashooter

The Museum's Boeing Centennial Exhibit featured in March 2016, the Boeing P-26 Peashooter which was a unique on-loan visiting artifact from the San Diego Air and Space Museum. The Speaker was Museum Docent, Bill Koch and he gave a tip-to-tail tour of this iconic 1930's fighter plane.


Famous Fighter Family

Boeing developed the first in a family of fighters in 1928 that would be one of their most successful designs between wars. The Model 83 was a biplane fighter that flew at nearly 170 mph (272 km/h) - considered a hot-rod performance for its day. Refined and improved versions became the Army P-12, the Navy F4B, and the Model 100 series. Nearly 600 examples of Boeing's "Fighter Family" were built. Movie stunt pilot Frank Tallman, who flew the Museum's plane, wrote that the Boeing fighters were, "nearly indestructible in flight and offered outstanding performance to execute maneuvers unknown to earlier generations of pilots."


"Pioneer Pullman of the Air"

Until the mid-1920s, American commercial airplanes were built for mail, not people. Boeing's Model 80, along with the Ford and Fokker tri-Motors, were a new breed of passenger aircraft. The 80 first flew in August 1928 and was working along Boeing Air Transport's route two weeks later. The 12-passenger Model 80 and the more-powerful 18-passenger 80A (re-designated 80A-1s when the tail surfaces were modified in 1930) stayed in service until 1933, when replaced by the all-metal Boeing Model 247. These are a few of the displays to give you an idea of what is shown, but there are many, many more to see.


Centennial Weekends

Winters at The Museum of Flight is literally sensational with lively weekend celebrations of the culture that shaped great moments in The Boeing Company. Anyone in that area is recommended to go to the Museum and go back in time traveling with live music, film, dance, performance, and tastings from each era.  The Museum schedules many lectures, airplane fly-ins, and new exhibits for the aviation enthusiasts but check on the schedule so you won’t be disappointed.  New events will be added all 2016!

George Jehn"s best seller FINAL DESTINATION: DISASTER What Really Happened to Eastern Airlines now to be a movie.  We got the good news on the radio show Monday night that a Hollywood movie producer has contracted with George to produce a movie based on his factual non-fiction book FINAL DESTINATION: DISASTER What Really Happened to Eastern Airlines.   

George, Congratulations!  The Eastern family wishes you great success and hopefully they will do another movie based on your great aviation thriller Flying To Close To The Sun.

March 2016 - NEWSLETTER

For those living in Southeast Florida join in a discussion and reading of George Jehn"s best seller FINAL DESTINATION: DISASTER What Really Happened to Eastern Airlines,

Our Book Club will be discussing George Jehn’s book. The date is April 8, 2016 from 9:30AM to about 11:15AM. The book club originally started as parents of current and former students of Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove, in Miami. We now include friends and acquaintances. It will be held at the Upper School on Main Highway. If you would like to attend, please contact Carlisle Talbot for further information and reservations. Last minute reservations may be OK. We just need a head count (or “souls on board” count) so we know which venue to use, and also to get permission from the school in case there is a larger crowd. Please leave a voice mail, or text, at Carlisle’s cellphone 305-772-0624. Or email CARLISLE305@GMAIL.COM.

Remember the Stinson SM-6000b Airliner Tri-motor
March 1, 2016 Article by Dorothy Gagnon

Remember the Stinson SM-6000b Airliner Tri-motor (click hyperlink to our photo on the Eastern Aircraft page.) of 1931, and that it was airworthy at the Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida in April 2007. Well there’s an opportunity to take a flight ride if you are in anyone of the areas where the Ford Tri-Motor flights, America’s first mass produced airliner, takes off. Use the link below to check the schedule for your area; unfortunately, I don’t see Florida on their schedule as yet.

You may already be aware of this company, Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) which is headquartered in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and hosts the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Fly-In & Convention every July. If not, sounds like a great thrill and an unforgettable and rare experience to fly aboard one of the few remaining airworthy Ford Tri-Motors in the world, the “Tin Goose” when it visits an airport near you! Don sure would like to take a flight!

The cost is not very expensive considering you are flying in a historic aircraft. The Ford Tri-Motor flights are $70 per adult in advance; walk-up price is $75, and $50 per child 17 and under for approximately 30 minutes, of which about 15 minutes will be in the air. See their website for more details if interested:

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