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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 22 No. 3
Thursday January 19, 2023

Who Was Bill Spohrer?

Bill Spohrer

     We want to share again a bit more about a giant of our business, Bill Spohrer who, we reported, died at home December 16 in Sarasota, Florida at age 91.
     In case you missed our report you can read it here. Our industry lost a giant of our time on December 16, 2022.
     Waiting in the wings due to a scheduling hitch for later this month is an extensive detailed study of the life and times of Gentleman Bill Spohrer created by the “Dean of Aviation Historians” REG Davies, who served as Curator of Air Transport at National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
     Here are some thoughts and a couple of reactions from people today who recall Bill.
Walt Atkinson      Long-time industry stalwart and cargo executive Walt Atkinson, who moved from the top job at CO Cargo to get back into the left seat during the rise of modern air cargo at Bill’s Challenge Air Cargo said:
     “Bill was truly a leader and innovator in the air cargo industry,” said Walt Atkinson, adding:
     “While everyone else chose to use beat-up old piston bangers, Bill decided to use brand new 757 freighters.
     “The key was to make quick turnarounds and maximize the daily usage of the aircraft because they don’t make money being parked!
     “Operating new aircraft meant that the aircraft had less maintenance requirements and the systems were more reliable.
     “I can speak from experience after my early piloting days at the original Zantop operating “old” C-46’s and other antiquated “birds”.
     “Even in my Evergreen days, when we operated used jets for UPS, turn-times were paramount and jets did not require the amount of maintenance pistons needed. Bill was able to convince the produce and flower growers in Latin America and the USA that Challenge could reduce the time it took to get the products into the market in a more timely manner.”
     “Bill’s knowledge of the Latin America market went way beyond just being the head of a cargo airline.
     “He understood the culture of each country like no one I have ever met. He was a polyglot with languages and spoke them like a native.
     “His early exploration days gave him an overview of the countries that no other airline executive could achieve.
     “I enjoyed my time working for him.
     “He was regarded very highly by all of his employees and he will be missed,” said Walt Atkinson.
Ram Menen     “We are saddened to learn of Bill’s passing,” writes Ram Menen, the man who built Emirates SkyCargo from the ground up.
     “Both Malou and I send condolences to Lynn and all of Bill’s near and dear and also his friends and admirers worldwide.
     “He was an amazing man and good friend. Bill was TIACA’s first (founding) President, CEO and the Chairman of Board and I was his wing man (as the Vice Chair) and was honored to work with/alongside him and got to know him pretty well. He was a pioneer in the true sense and a great business man. His contribution to the cargo operation at Miami airport was the foundation of what it is in the air everywhere to the world today. He virtually transformed Corrosion Corner, where he based and built the then state-of-the-art handling facilities for his Challenge Air at the airport.
     “He was one of the first to use canine squad for detection of contraband for all cargo coming from Latin America. His knowledge of the Latin market was legendary. He built the airline from the ground up to what it was, when he sold it to UPS.
     “Apart from the cargo industry, he had an Indiana Jones streak in him. He went on many explorations in South American historic sites, especially to prove that man had flown in pre-history, much before what history has recorded. It was his passion for ballooning that sent him on many an adventure trip. He was the central character in the book “Flight of The Condor,” which recorded his attempt to build a balloon from material that mimicked what existed in ancient times.
     “Although he couldn’t fly the balloon himself due to an unfortunate back injury that he sustained during one of his adventures, another balloonist flew it, proving his theory was right.
     “He was also a gentle soul. The last time I spoke to him was a couple of years back. He was in great spirits and was enjoying his retirement life with Lynn. He lived his life to the fullest. The industry has lost a legend and a good friend.
     “May the good Lord bless him and may his soul Rest In Peace.
     “We were all blessed to have him amongst us.
     “Bill continues to inspire us as we celebrate his life so very well lived . . .”

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
Access complete issue by clicking on issue icon or
Access specific articles by clicking on article title
Vol. 21 No. 48
Where Have You Gone Gentleman Bill?
Vol. 22 No.1
Putting 2022 In Rearview Mirror

Vol. 22 No. 2
China Hops To It
2022 In Rearview Part II
Chuckles for January 11, 2023

Publisher-Geoffrey Arend • Managing Editor-Flossie Arend • Editor Emeritus-Richard Malkin
Film Editor-Ralph Arend • Special Assignments-Sabiha Arend, Emily Arend

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