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Ralph Freshour
L-1011 Flight Engineer


Welcome to my personal Blog on the L-1011 TriStar. I created this blog to detail the stories and the people I was privileged to work with as a TriStar Flight Engineer for Lockheed in Palmdale, California.

I have added a Crew Names menu selection above right. With Carl Meyerholtz and Jim Irving’s help, I am trying to list all of the name of the pilots and flight engineers we used to fly with. Contact me with any updates or corrections to my menu list!

This is not a blog about the L-1011 itself. There are many other websites that have a lot of information about the plane itself, it’s specs, etc. This website is about me working as a flight engineer instructor on the L-1011, the customer airline crews I helped to train but mostly some background information about what it was like to work for Lockheed on the L-1011 TriStar program in the early 1970′s. I was there. I lived it.

My journey started a long time ago (1971) when I got out of the Air Force and came home to southern California looking for a job. But before I go into the beginning of the best 5 years of my working life, let me start with 1967 when I graduated from high school.

I attended a 4 year high school and for all of those years I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. After graduating from high school, I attended a junior college in the San Fernando Valley but did not take a full 12 credits. The Viet Nam war was in full swing so without taking full classes at college I was in the Draft pool, so I decided to try and pick a job in the service that I might be able to use after I got out. I ended up joining the Air Force and they made me a mechanic/technician working on F-4 fighter jet ground support equipment. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that training would give me the foundation I would later need as a Flight Engineer on one of the most advanced commercial jetliners ever built.

It was in the Air Force that I found my calling…finally. Working around the fighter jets for 4 years got me interested in flying. I wanted to be a pilot. I wanted to fly. I did a 12 month tour of duty in Viet Nam and when I came back to the States I was stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ. With two years remaining on my four year hitch, I started flying in the Aero Club at Davis-Monthan and earned my Private Pilots license.

The G.I. Bill couldn’t help me with the costs for obtaining the private license but it would kick in when I started my next training: the Commercial Pilots License. This was a long process and costly but the G.I. Bill helped to pay the cost.

After four years I left the Air Force and returned to southern California…looking for a job and continuing my professional pilot training out of Van Nuys airport at Golden West Skyways FBO.

The only job I could find, which was really a class, was to learn how to shoot rivets and be a sheet metal worker. I saw the job posting on the wall of my local unemployment office and the company doing the training was Lockheed California Company. The class was one month and they would “probably” hire you after the class was completed and you would work out in Palmdale building a commercial jetliner they were building there called the L-1011 TriStar.

I thought what the hell, I wasn’t working and I could go to this class and still look for other work. To my surprise, 30 days later, I still was out of work but completed the class and they hired me. I was going to be a sheet metal worker for Lockheed and work in Palmdale.

So, for the next year or so, I worked as a sheet metal worker on the TriStar and continued to fly and train as a commercial pilot at the Van Nuys airport on the weekends.

To see how I actually got the flight engineer job with Lockheed, click the above menu item Flight Engineer Job.