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Les Abend

Flagler Beach, FL, Florida

As a wide-eyed six-year-old, Les climbed aboard an American Airlines Lockheed Electra and received a certificate signed by the captain. The certificate entitled Les to appear before the chief pilot 20 years from that date.  Amused by their son’s exuberance, his parents allowed him the opportunity to grow out of his fantasy.  He never did, but instead pursued his dream, arriving at the doorstep of his favorite airline as per the promise of the certificate, despite the unemployment of over 500 furloughed pilots.

At the local airport, Les began his employment as a line boy in order to support his flying habit.  He attended Purdue University.  He flight-instructed students at the university and at his hometown airport.  Les worked for two separate Allegheny Commuter airlines, flying Twin Otters and Beech 99s. He became a copilot on a 727, flying for Evergreen International Airlines under contract with UPS.  Les was later hired and employed the same day as a 727 flight engineer for now-defunct, Wien Air Alaska. Unemployed for a brief stint, he became the worst used Toyota salesman in the city of Seattle.

In 1984 Les fulfilled his dream and became an American Airlines pilot.  He has flown the 727, the 757, and the 767, with a brief period as a check airman. He retired as a 777 captain and a 34-year veteran of the airline.

Les has realized his other passion as a freelance writer, contributing to his monthly Jumpseat column in FLYING Magazine for 20years in addition to the occasional article for CNN.com.  Although he has been on-camera with other networks, he was a contracted, on-air CNN aviation analyst, most notably offering his expertise during the coverage of Malaysia Flight 370.  And after untold years of enjoying his undiagnosed case of A.D.D., Les finally published his first-in-a-series novel, “Paper Wings,” a mystery, suspense, whodunit thriller with an aviation background.

Still a general aviation enthusiast and AOPA member, Les and his wife own a four-place Piper Arrow.  He enjoys the challenge of operating all types of aircraft from gliders to a Boeing 777, and one of his favorite taildraggers, a DC-3.

Having moved from his home in Connecticut of almost 30 years, Les and his wife, Carol, now reside in the town of Flagler Beach, Florida. They enjoy the outdoors, boating, skiing, sailing, staying healthy, and quality beer that doesn’t come in a silver can with a mountain background.

In retirement, Les has volunteered for various organizations including 2 years as an HOA president, an airport advisory board chairman, and a core member of a local environmental advocacy organization.  Not only is his goal to contribute as a participant to worthy causes, but to keep his beautiful wife happy enough to allow him continued residence in their home.

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