March 27, 2009

Touching FedEx Tribute to Pilots

Not everyone can work from home or telecommute. Pilots, for example—at least with today’s technology— can’t sit safely at home in front of a computer and do their work. Flying is incredibly safe, despite the media’s inclination to sensationalize every accident while ignoring, for example, the daily carnage on the highways.

One company that flies a huge fleet of almost 700 aircraft that makes it possible for us to work efficiently at home is FedEx. Sadly, they lost two pilots recently, the first in company history.

The tribute paid to the pilots was touching, and an example of what a a good company does to recognize it’s employees, even when the news is bad.



A company email to employees had this to say:

As all of you know, one of the fallen pilots was based at San Antonio.  First Officer Tony Pino is a retired Air Force officer and has been flying with FedEx for a little over 3 years.  He usually flew international and was primarily flying out of ANC [Anchorage].  On Friday the 13th of this month, Pino jumpseated out of San Antonio for the last time with a promise to his wife that he would be home Thursday the 26th.  Today, we received about 12 of the Pino family and friends on the ramp along with 35 uniformed pilots and approx 70 of our FedEx family to fulfill that promise.

In Narita, Japan there were a number of pilots in full uniform to present the remains of both pilots to the aircraft and see the flight off.  In Oakland for a “gas and go” there were 25+ full uniformed pilots that went up the stairs and paid respects to the fallen ones.  In MEM a full color guard received the two and took them to a hangar where Fred Smith, Dave Bronczek and a large number of executives received 400-500 pilots and personnel that were bused to pay respects.  My understanding is that Mr. Smith was there for the duration.  People signed a book for each family.

After which, Captain Mosely was flown to Portland Oregon this morning where the Ramp Team received the family and had approx 80 employees lined up on the nose dock.  Their operation was without any issues or concerns and was a very moving presentation according to the Senior Manager.

F/O Pino was taken to a MEM [Memphis] funeral home and escorted for 12 hours by 2 crew until time for the dayturn show time.  A full honor presentation accompanied the loading.  Flowers were also sent to the MEM funeral home and all of those were loaded on our flight 379 along with crewmen (2 were formal escorts). Our pilots were not ever left without escort from Japan until the funerals and will not be unless the family requests otherwise.

At San Antonio, it rained today until approx 1400hrs, skies cleared and the sun came out.  It was a beautiful afternoon.  We received the family and parked them on the tarmac at approx 1650hrs along with the guests and uniformed crew.  We made arrangements to have the flight land on the closest runway and touched down straight across from our ramp with a perfect landing.  The aircraft blocked at 1734hrs and the flowers from Mr. Smith  (gorgeous 6’ tall arrangement) and the book signed by all in MEM were presented to the widow and 3 boys.  Tony’s mother and other family were also present.
The body was covered with the American flag and the pilots and honor guard stayed at full attention then moved to salute when the pallet started in motion forward.  It was lowered and the honor guard stepped up on the loader.  Mrs. Pino came forward with her son, hugged the casket and spent a few moments with her late husband.  She retreated and the transfer was completed to the hearse with proper respect and military bearing.

I have a ramp agent that indicated in his 32 years with FedEx it was the proudest moment he has experienced.  Our FedEx Team did an exceptional job of honoring these two pilots and I am proud also to report that the SATR Team was able to finish equally strong.  Our loader operator, stairs, marshaller and others were absolutely perfect in their execution.  One of the pilots I authorized to be here was in full UPS uniform and he was absolutely awed by the respectfulness.

We still work for the best company in the world because we fill it with the best people in the world!

Blue skies and tailwinds to the crew, and our sincerest condolences to their familes and friends.


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2 Responses to Touching FedEx Tribute to Pilots

  1. Georgeanne Giordano says:

    Dear FedEx,
    Thank You for all that was done for my family. Tony Pino was my brother in law. We were all so impressed of you caring, of having someone their with my sister, helping her through all she had to go through. Keeping the media away from her and the boys. And sending her family out to her. The respect you gave to Tony’s home coming was outstanding. Thank you to all the people employed by FedEx that took the time to send or write a little something to his family. That meant so much knowing you all cared. And for all of you who knew Tony, He was what everyone wrote about him. He is missed so much, words can not express how we all feel.
    Thank you again, It has meant so much to us.

    Georgeanne Giordano

  2. Tom Harnish says:

    Both Kate and I are pilots, and between 1992 and 2006 we worked with some the best pilots in the world. In the back of our mind we always carried the knowledge that entropy happens, things go wrong. Fortunately we never suffered the heartbreak that you and your sister have, although we came close once. Even today, we cringe for all those pilots we loved, with their skill and passion for flight, when we hear of tragedies.

    Should the worst have happened, should it yet, we can only wish we could have, we will, responded the way FEDEX did.

    Thank you for your comment. What better memorial to Tony could there be than the clear message that you, all of us, care?

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