Ralph Albertazzie, Nixon’s Pilot, Dies
August 21, 2011 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
FALLING WATERS, W.Va., Aug. 21 (UPI) — Ralph Albertazzie, who piloted Air Force One when former President Richard Nixon resigned from office, has died at his home in West Virginia, officials said.
Albertazzie died at his home in Falling Waters at age 88, said Brown Funeral Home in Martinsburg, W. Va., which confirmed his death.
Albertazzie, a retired Air Force colonel with service in three wars, took Nixon from the White House to his home in California after Nixon resigned on Aug. 9, 1974, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Albertazzie died Monday.
Recalling the historic flight, Albertazzie later said, “In the plane’s lounge people were crying. I don’t think ever again will a president leave office while flying in a plane. Afterwards, Nixon came out of his private compartment and said: ‘Well, is everybody enjoying the trip?’ No one spoke.”
Bill Gulley, a former director of the White House military office, said in his 1980 book “Breaking Cover” that Albertazzie was “without question the best 707 pilot the Air Force had.”
Piloting Air Force One, Albertazzie took Nixon to 35 countries, racking up 324,264 miles in the air.
Albertazzie was born July 16, 1923, in Cassville, W. Va. As a youth he washed airplanes at a small local airport in exchange for flying lessons.
In the military, he taught bomber pilots in World War II, flew supplies and troops during the Korean War and he flew 35 combat missions in Viet Nam.
Albertazzie’s wife, Carol, died in 1999 after 57 years of marriage.