Salazar, Emilio (1922-2004) | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections
Captain Emilio Salazar (1922-2004) was born on October 28, 1922 in Havana, Cuba, to parents Emilio R. Salazar and Enriqueta Rupia. Like his father, Captain Salazar attended Manhattan College in New York City in approximately 1938, where he learned the English language. An avid follower of aviation since Charles Lindberg visited Havana in 1928, Salazar began building model planes and won a national award for model airplane design and construction in December 1943. He attended a private pilot's course at the National Academy of Civilian Aviation in Havana, and earned his private pilot's license on December 22, 1944.
Salazar came to the United States in 1944 to enroll in the Inter-American Aviation Training Program at Purdue University. He was at Purdue at the end of World War II, training in Waco UPF-7 biplanes. Training continued after the war, and Salazar completed the program on April 16, 1946. While at Purdue, he was married and became a U.S. citizen. Salazar went on to work as a ferry pilot for Piper Aircraft Company in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania in October 1946. In February 1947 he was employed by Lockwood Field, Inc., in Frankfort, Indiana, as a private and commercial pilot instructor. The following year he began working for South Bend Flying Service in South Bend, Indiana, as a charter airplane pilot and flying instructor. He later worked for Capital Airlines, but was let go by the company in 1950 for not having been born in the United States. He then returned to Cuba, where he remained with his family for approximately ten years. While there, he worked as a pilot for Cubana Airlines (Havana), a subsidiary of Pan American World Airways.
In 1956, Salazar participated in special experimental high altitude airport operation tests conducted by Vickers Aircraft Ltd. and Cubana Airlines in Mexico City. In November 1959, he was promoted to Captain on the Douglas DC-3 regular scheduled passenger routes throughout Cuba. Salazar stated on his resume that he left Cuba in June 1960 due to communism. He returned to the United States and began working as a pilot for the Purdue Aeronautical Corporation in September 1960. He served as a co-pilot on experimental test flights and later on operational flights of the Midwest Program of Airborne Television Instruction (MPATI) at Purdue University. He operated DC-6s and DC-3s for Purdue in the early 1960s, and in June of 1963 he was promoted to Captain on the Douglas DC-3. In October of that year he began providing flying instruction for the Purdue Aeronautical Corporation and later the Purdue Airlines. Along with a large group of pilots from Purdue, Salazar was trained on the DC-9 during December 1968 and January 1969 by Eastern Airlines in Miami.
After Purdue Airlines ceased operations in April 1971, Salazar joined Southwest Airlines, where he piloted the first flight of the newly reformed airline out of Love Field in Dallas, Texas, on June 18, 1971. His last flight with Southwest Airlines was on October 27, 1982, when, per FAA regulations, he retired at age 60. There was a large celebration at Love Field and many of his family members attended. He died in Dallas, Texas, on April 15, 2004. The Purdue Aeronautical Corporation (PAC) was organized in 1942 by Purdue's President Edward C. Elliott. The non-profit Corporation was devised to work as a self-supporting laboratory for air transportation and flight instruction. During World War II, PAC hosted a Navy Flight Instructors School, various Navy and Army pilot training programs, and three Inter-American Flight Programs. After unsuccessful attempts in 1949 and 1952 to establish a carrier route, PAC obtained an exemption in 1953 from the Federal Civil Aeronautics Board which allowed PAC to operate as a "large irregular air carrier" in the charter and military markets. From July 1953 to February 1969, PAC's DC-3 aircrafts logged over 34,000 flight hours with students occupying the co-pilot's seat on every flight. In 1962, Purdue became one of thirteen carriers to receive permanent certification as a Supplemental Air Carrier (charter). Shortly thereafter, PAC purchased a DC-6 from United Airlines. The first contract using the DC-6 was negotiated with the Chicago White Sox in 1962, the only contract obtained for a supplemental carrier from a major league team. From 1960-1968, PAC operated two DC-6 A/B aircraft for the Midwest Program for Airborne Television Instruction. The aircrafts flew over Montpelier, Indiana and broadcast educational programming to schools in six Midwest states.
In 1968, after PAC was unable to finance the purchase of a jet engine DC-9, Purdue Airlines was created in conjunction with Stephens Inc., as a for-profit corporation. Purdue Airlines ceased operations April 30, 1971 due to financial considerations.