Golden Gate Wing Guest Speaker Archive

Presentation Date: April 28, 2016

Ray Weigle, Lieutenant, United States Navy


Ray Weigle was born in June 1920 at Syracuse, New York, the first of two brothers.  His father was a chief civil engineer specializing in dam construction; his mother operated a school of dance.  He grew up in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania (a suburb of Harrisburg) and graduated from Camp Hill high school in 1938.

Ray’s first airplane ride was at age 6 in a barnstorming Waco 9 OX-5 near Hershey, PA.  In 1939, he entered the University of Southern California (USC) majoring in commercial aviation.  He took flying lessons at Van Nuys, CA Metropolitan Airport and soloed in a Piper J-3 Cub in March 1940.

In the summer of 1940, Ray earned his Private Pilot’s license at Penn Harris Airport near Harrisburg, PA in Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) for college students. During his sophomore year at USC, he completed the Secondary CPT course in aerobatics in a Waco UPF-7 at California Flyers, Los Angeles Municipal Airport (now LAX).

In the summer of 1941, he took courses in Cross Country, Commercial, and Instructor Ratings in Beechcraft D17S Staggerwings and Fairchild PT-19s at the Wilson Flying Service near New Kingston, PA.

In spring 1942, Ray was accepted for co-pilot training with TWA, but decided to accept a job with Embry Riddle in Arcadia, Florida instructing Army Primary cadets in Stearman PT-17s as a contribution to the war effort.

A year later at Opa-Locka, FL he applied and was accepted as an Ensign in the US Navy.  Based on his previous flying experience, in the summer of 1943 at Corpus Christi, Texas he skipped Navy Primary training and completed Basic and Advanced.

Upon graduation, Ray was assigned to Squadron VRF-1 at Floyd Bennett Field, New York to ferry planes from East Coast aircraft factories to carriers on the West Coast at San Diego, San Pedro, and Seattle.  While delivering Naval aircraft, he logged approximately 1200 hours of flight time.  His return trips were on commercial airlines (24-hour flights from San Diego to New York).

Discharged as a Lieutenant in August 1946, he returned to USC on the GI Bill. In May 1948 (a month before graduation), he left USC to accept a First Officer slot with TWA because at that time, their new-hire upper age limit was 28 and his 29th birthday was in June.

After Ray completed his First Officer training in Kansas City, he was assigned to Newark, NJ flying Douglas DC-3s.  One month later, he was reassigned to La Guardia, NY flying Lockheed Constellations.

In June 1949, TWA furloughed 300 First Officers.  Ray was immediately hired by Colonial Airlines at La Guardia flying DC-3s to Montreal and points in between.

In December 1949, he was furloughed by Colonial, rehired the following spring, and furloughed again in November 1950.  He rented a DC-3 from Colonial at $40 per hour and passed his Air Transport Rating for DC-3s.  Hired immediately by American Airlines, he was never furloughed again, made Captain in September 1955, and retired in June 1980.

In 1950, Ray married an AA stewardess; they had one son and divorced in 1960.  In 1969, he married Rosalie Dunn who was a registered nurse and Pan American Purser originally from Boston, England.  After leaving Pan Am in 1975, she got her nursing credentials in California and went to work at Presbyterian Hospital in San Francisco.  She later decided to go into real estate and is working as a successful broker. They are still happily married and reside in San Rafael.

Civilian Aircraft Flown:

Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, Beechcraft D17S Staggerwing, Citabria, Cub Cruiser, Davis, Decathlon, Douglas DC-3, Fairchild 21, Fairchild 24, Fairchild PT-19, Luscombe Silvair, Piper J-3 Cub, Schweizer 233 (sailplane), Starduster 1, Stearman PT-17, Stinson Reliant, Waco UPF-7.

Military Aircraft Flown:

F4F/FM-2, F4U, F6F, F7F, F8F, JD-1, N2S, N3N, PV-1, PV-2, R4D, R5C, R5D, SB2C, SBD, SNB, SNJ, SNV, TBF/TVM, TDC-2.

Airline Type Ratings:

B-707, B-720, B-747, CV-240, CV-990, DC-3, DC-6. DC-7, DC-10, L-188.