Muscatello, who died Tuesday January 23 was for all his decades of service
a true original in air cargo and an airport advocate and innovator.
Here with his friend Michael Webber’s
lovely homage, that includes a plethora of air cargo and airport industry
people, we gain an insight of Dan.
As we say farewell and celebrate Dan, here
an up close and personal profile we created that includes text written
in 2015 by our dearly departed Richard Malkin.
Reading Dan and Dick going at it, am struck
by the relevance of their conversation that we share with you a decade
Imagination takes flight, as we celebrate
the life and times and legacy of Dan Muscatello.
arriving in this industry as a 20-something in 1993, I’ve only known
an air cargo industry heavily influenced by Dan Muscatello who passed
away Tuesday evening on January 23rd. My first airport job was as Director
of Marketing & Economic Development for the Jackson (MS) Municipal
Airport Authority which one could be forgiven for believing would not
have provided much standing among the industry veterans who were then
exploring the formation of an air cargo working group within Airports
Council International – North America (ACI-NA).
However, Dan was immediately generous with
his time and in my more than thirty years knowing Dan, he was never dismissive
of anyone on the basis of age or their perceived place in the industry
pecking order. Don’t get me wrong, Dan colorfully took his nemeses
down a peg or two but with an artfulness that I often found entertaining,
but he never punched down. It helped that we were often irritated by the
same people and phenomena.
Given Dan’s receptiveness to young
people who were just learning the ropes, it should be no surprise that
he was something of a mentor to so many of my contemporaries. Dan initiated
so many initiatives in our industry - especially within but not limited
to ACI-NA - that are easily taken for granted. It’s almost too easy
to forget that somebody had to have nurtured these into being –
and that somebody was typically Dan Muscatello. Over the decades, I’ve
occasionally heard grumbling about how much influence Dan had over certain
entities and efforts. Consistently, my rebuttal has been that Dan was
willing to work harder on these industry initiatives than would anyone
else (including me!) and had his critics been willing to commit as much
energy, they too could have had more influence. Dan never turned down
any support or collaboration. In fact, he was often disappointed that
more of it wasn’t offered.
In the last year or so of Dan’s life,
he was most professionally active with the Airforwarder’s Association’s
(AfA) effort to address truck congestion at U.S. airports. Dan authored
a “white paper” for the AfA and had hoped to provide testimony
to Congress as that initiative progresses but his longtime illnesses finally
overwhelmed his physical abilities. At Dan’s request, I edited his
white paper and executive summaries in a collaborative style that we probably
had used in the 1990s when we co-authored chapters for the ACI-NA Air
Cargo Compendium and then more recently as coworkers at the airport planning
firm Landrum & Brown in 2017-18. Among airport planners, Dan was a
superior writer and editing his documents was never as demanding as for
many I have edited over the years.
Recounting a recent scene that will seem
bizarre to those who never knew the man but only too familiar to those
who did, not long ago I received a call from Dan who wanted to strategize
about how to garner more airport support for the congestion effort. There
was a cacophony of noise crowding Dan’s voice and I asked if he’d
prefer to call later when it might be quieter. “Nah, Mike, I’m
in the hospital and it’s probably not going to get any quieter than
this!” I can only imagine what the medical professionals thought
of the guy barking out air cargo-oriented minutiae while they were trying
to change his IV drip.
Enough people in our industry know that
Dan and I had a falling out in recent years that it would be disingenuous
of me to wholly ignore. While I would have preferred to avoid being on
the receiving end of Dan’s barbs, I am grateful for a friendship
that I enjoyed for most of thirty years I knew Dan and for all that he
contributed to our industry. I’m also relieved that our last private
conversations were constructive exchanges mostly about airport congestion
but with friendly sidebars about our lives.
I am glad to have known Dan and under the
circumstances, pleased to share the following from many colleagues who
offered their own reflections on this singular guy.
Brimble, Founder and CEO, Lynxs Group
We all know that Dan was a giant of the
industry. But I refer to him as another kind of giant, the “Big
Foot” of the industry. Before you jump the conclusion that this
is a criticism, just know that I am from Austin, home of Yeti (coolers
for your beer, in case you have been living on the moon, or in some place
with no beer worth keeping cool). So, to me, Yetis are cool—Dan
was a cool Yeti, er, Big Foot. Dan’s footprint was huge, just like
a Yeti, he was everywhere, all the time, and knew more about almost any
airport than almost anyone- we all benefited from this institutional knowledge
and wisdom. Dan worked on BIG stuff—airport cities, global sized
airports, master plans written for Masters of the Universe. Me, working
on that 1,500 sft cargo shed at West Podunk Intl. Airport, was awed by
the biggi-ness of Dan’s projects. Another thing like Big Foot .
. . Dan-sightings were frequent and far flung. I could never go to an
airport conference, or visit an airport director without hearing, “I
just saw your buddy, Dan Muscatello.” For these, and many other
reasons, Dan, like Big Foot, is a legend. May the legend be remembered,
and appreciated in the future by all who follow in those very big foot
Jennifer Carter, Vice President, National
consider myself very fortunate to have known Dan for the past 17 years
and call him a dear friend. Everything he did was with passion, dedication,
and extraordinary determination.
Dan’s dedication to the Air Cargo
Industry will be his legacy. Dan had such conviction, that he was working
on a white paper with his final days. That is how much he cared for bettering
the future of our industry for generations to come. He
was an “unofficial” mentor to many of us, always willing to
chat and provide his unparalleled industry expertise.
We have truly lost an industry icon . .
. it will take many of us to collectively try to equal Dan. For as motivated
and passionate as he was for the Aviation Industry, his world revolved
around his 2 daughters and family.
He always made a point to brag about them.
The best way we can all do to honor him is to ignite our fires of passion
a little brighter and work together to better the future of our community.
Doug Goldberg President/CEO Worldwide
Aviation at Strategic Aviation Services
my backyard pizza oven to Boston, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi,
and many points in between, I have had the pleasure and opportunity to learn
from Dan about all things related not only to air cargo, but also airport
and land use development strategy, and life in general. Dan was always switched
on – day or night, weekends, and holidays. For any opportunity, project,
or client, Dan was usually the first to offer an idea, a contact, or an
approach to address the challenge, to solve the problem, to ask, “what
if?”, to answer the question. Dan did not mince words. If you ask
for his advice, you had better be ready to hear what he thinks – because
he will give you the honest truth whether you like it or not. Nothing is
sugar-coated. You can always count on Dan for a witty, irreverent comment
to lighten the mood, whether it be in a formal presentation, or a routine
zoom call. And I would not have it any other way.
I first met Dan over 20 years ago, he has been a colleague, a mentor, and
a friend. He provided meaningful advice about work, clients, leadership,
and relationships. And he has never let me down, except perhaps for the
time he showed up at the airport for a flight to India to present a cargo
study without a visa – as he turned to return home after being told
he cannot get on the flight, I recall him saying, “Good luck with
the presentation – you’ll do fine - I am going home to watch
the Kentucky Derby”. Fact is, he prepared me well for that meeting.
We shared many dinners at the end of a long day strategizing next steps
for the project, how best to secure a win, and most importantly, the little
things our kids might have done that make us proud or drive us crazy.
Dan and I had a chance to reminisce about
old times and new projects on January 5 for a few hours at his home. I am
so glad to have had that opportunity. Dan is unique. He makes people around
him better. I am a better person for knowing him.
L. Minear, Airport Property Solutions, LLC
grateful to have known and learned from Dan for nearly 20 years. Dan
seemed to always have an idea to share and love putting people together
to make things happen.
was private about his personal experiences, I was privileged once
to hear him describe his service in the Army Special Forces, including
22 combat parachute jumps. Not many like him lived to tell about it
and he rarely spoke of it.
with a passion for the air cargo industry and will be greatly missed.
Forrer, Chief Investment Officer at Aviation Facilities Company, Inc.
widely shared respect as an OG (original gangster) in the air cargo
space - irrespective of one’s views on any particulars where
one may have differed with his opinions. He was one of the first names
that came up when I was considering making a professional commitment
to the air cargo/airport infrastructure sector over two + decades
ago. Over that time, our paths crossed regularly on project opportunities,
public policy initiatives, and industry events where Dan has been
a consistent contributor to thoughtful and informed discussions. His
training and combat experience as a Marine prepared him well for staying
calm, focused, and living a life beyond self-interests for the benefit
of his family, friends, and fellow citizens. The air cargo industry
is fortunate to have had him as a member of the community.
Kennedy, A.A.E., IAP, Consultant and former Aviation Director
Dan was an unexpected benefactor who appeared
in my professional world and became a friend. In the early 90s, Dan was
a seasoned professional, globally recognized for his expertise in air
cargo development. I was the first Air Cargo Development Officer at Hartsfield
Jackson Atlanta International Airport, with so much to learn. Dan took
me under his wing, guiding me, selflessly sharing his knowledge, helping
me learn the skills I needed to be successful. As I progressed in my career,
Dan would remind me of my obligation to make the industry better by sharing
my knowledge and experiences, and most importantly by providing help where
I could. Dan’s passion for caring, innovating, sharing, and mentoring
has greatly influenced both my professional and personal life. He will
be greatly missed by many friends and colleagues.
Roy A. Williams, Former Director, Dayton
International Airport, Salt Lake City International Airport, Louis Armstrong
New Orleans International Airport;
Former Chair ACI-NA Air Cargo Subcommittee; Air Cargo Committee; Economics
brought a special understanding of air cargo from his many years at the
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He pushed the airport industry
to focus on the economics of air cargo, and how airports could meet and
finance the special needs of the deregulated cargo industry. During my
time at Dayton accommodating the growth of the Emery Worldwide air cargo
hub, Dan and I worked together to build an air cargo focus at ACI-NA,
with a steering group, then a subcommittee of the Economic Committee,
and ultimately a full Committee. With this structure, air cargo receives
attention and support in airports, in the air cargo industry and in our
relations of passenger carriers, and strong voices like Dan’s, and
strong structures such as the Cargo Committee are essential to the success
of the airport/air cargo relationship.
S. Rod, Assistant Commissioner - Cargo Operations & Development
Chicago Department of Aviation
Dan was a true force in our industry over
many decades. He was a mentor, a sage, and a friend who pushed for innovation
and education at every turn. When we first met many years ago, including
through Airports Council International, he generously saw my newbie potential
as a future leader in the industry, and he nurtured me so to be part of
the Air Cargo Committee he founded. When I was ultimately elected Committee
Chair, leave it to Dan to still push hard and challenge me to be my very
best for ACI and beyond. That is a great legacy—not only a leader
in his own right but enhancing others all around him for a cause he passionately
loved. A simple and gracious thank you, Dan. You will be missed. My love
and thoughts are with your family during this difficult time.
C. Bañez, Managing Director
met Dan in the latter part of his career, but, long before that, I
knew of his high standing in the air cargo industry. We first worked
together on the ACI Air Cargo Committee and later partnered on several
projects for our respective consulting firms. During these engagements,
Dan’s respect for my contributions gave me confidence that I
was providing value to clients which, in turn, helped me grow as a
professional. While Dan’s impact on my career is immeasurable,
it’s his friendship that I will cherish most. I’ll miss
his quick wit and the laughs we often shared. Dan was always giving
of his knowledge and his time. I’ll strive to live up to the
standards he set.
Sheila M. Thomas, Senior Principal-Strategic
Planning Services Transportation Planning & Development
I first began working with Dan on the Cargo
Planning for Dubai Al Maktoum airport in 2008. But it was when we worked
together on Abu Dhabi Airport in 2009 and 2010 that we really became close
friends. I learned everything I know about cargo and logistics, as well
as feasibility analysis of collateral development, from working with Dan.
Since Dan did not draw, I went on to draw many cargo layouts for Dan for
airport plans in China, India and South Africa. Trips where I could work
side by side and present concepts to clients with Dan were always a plus.
I also learned about Dan as a person. Dan had
the highest professional standards, a great wit, and a playful sense of
humor. His smile and laugh are indelibly etched into my memory. The highest
compliment he ever gave me was that he would “share a fox hole with
me” and would always have my “six.” His calm and controlled
demeanor also greatly helped my sanity when we dealt with more difficult
clients. I am a better professional because of working closely with Dan.
I am personally grateful for having been lucky enough to also have been
his friend. His memory will always be with me and I will miss him.
Jeffrey N. Thomas, Senior Principal-Strategic
Planning Services Transportation Planning & Development
I had the privilege of solving problems
with Dan over the years as a consultant, as an employee and as a friend.
The brilliance of his ideas was only exceeded by the depth of his professionalism
and his immense sense of humor. A man who uplifted those around him, one
of a kind. May he rest in peace.
Johnson, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (retired)
In the late nineties and early two thousands
I served on the Air Cargo Committee for ACI World along with Dan Muscatello
and I was always impressed with both his knowledge, as well as how
hard he worked for the committee.
Pineda, Trade & Logistics Manager for the Marketing Division of
the Miami-Dade Aviation Department
I met Dan while he was with the Port
Authority (PANYNJ) and I was just starting my career at MIA. He has
always been so open, sharing his knowledge and experience in the air
cargo industry, something I always appreciated. A person I have admired
throughout my career. Someone who always gave his maximum effort for
the benefit of the entire cargo industry. I and the entire air cargo
industry are going to miss you. God bless you Dan.
Fried, Airforwarders Association (AfA)
passing left a gaping hole in our industry and in our hearts. His
infectious laughter, keen insights, and ability to find humor in even
the driest details will be sorely missed.
wasn't just a colleague; he was a bridge builder. He demystified the
complexities of airport operations for freight forwarders and championed
industry needs with infectious humor and unwavering dedication. His
work on airport congestion, working to help us secure crucial funding
from Capitol Hill for cargo infrastructure improvements, stands as
a testament to his impact.
you, Dan. Your legacy lives on in every smoothly flowing cargo bay
and every smile we share in the face of industry chaos. Rest in peace,
Jones, VP of Business Development, AGI
For the past 20 years there was one
person who you could call and talk air cargo with more than anyone
else and that was Dan Muscatello. Most people would not know his
name or his vast accomplishments in air cargo but if they did, you
would agree with me that his name and accomplishment are worthy
of the TIACA Hall of Fame and its distinguished honored dignitaries.
Dan was the consultant behind the scenes in air cargo and always
pushing for reform, new ideas and just a better way to help people
and the industry he loved. When Dan talked, people listened. Thank
you, Dan, for your service and for everything you did in Air Cargo.
Very grateful to all of the contributors
who have shared their memories of Dan. Dan’s
family and others will craft a more conventional biographical treatment
of his life. That wasn’t my aspiration here. Rather, I hoped we
might provide a sense of Dan’s character and his professional legacy
and I am satisfied.
While reviewing my own introductory section,
as well as the testimonials that followed, another memory occurred to
me. As long as I knew Dan, we often discussed music. Given his own penchant
for bluster, I was often amused by his suggestion that I was overly opinionated
about music and in serious need of moderation. I recall thinking “how
bad must I be if Dan thinks I need to tone it down?”
What I only found out late and in unusual
circumstances was that Dan Muscatello had a fine tenor singing voice.
We were working on a project in Xi’an, China when our host-client
sprung a surprise karaoke-style audible during dinner. After a few solos
by various members of the Chinese client, the demand was made for reciprocal
offerings from our side. Much as I love music, I learned long ago that
I’m intended to be nothing more than an exceptional listener. However,
Dan and Sheila Thomas bravely stepped up to the plate with Dan offering
a sublime, a capella “Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral (That's an Irish Lullaby)".
I was flabbergasted by the beauty. On our walk back to the hotel afterwards,
Dan shared that he’d sung in his high school glee club. I’d
have never guessed.
It has been less than 24 hours since Dan
passed. Agnostic as I am, I can’t help but chuckle at a recurring
image I have of Dan having passed through the pearly gates and shortly
thereafter, cornering God with a few early ideas he already has for improving
the whole onboarding process in Heaven. Dan is already forming a working
group to draft a white paper on the subject.
Wednesday January 24
As he concluded this gathering for Dan from
so many wonderful people, Mike Webber added some music.
Mike from Kansas City attended Tulane University
in New Orleans and undoubtedly witnessed many musical celebrations of
lives well-lived and otherwise at final rites in both great cities.
For Dan, Mike’s pairimg of Harry Belafonte’s
reading of “Danny
Boy”, and Van Morrison & The Band’s “Tura,
Lura, Lura” and BP Fallon's, “Increasingly
Often”, are thoughtful and lovely.
We added one song from Abba recorded in
2021, an instant classic pop tune rock epoch titled, “Keep
an Eye On Dan.”
The song in verse has nothing to do with
our Dan, but at his loss, the title and the music are a powerful hook.
The music has a nice chuga-chuga beat like
a dance band in a park during summer. The synthesizer layering in the
tune is irresistible.
This is catchy classic rock music with one
line in the song tugging at our heart every time it is repeated:
An Eye On Dan, And Don’t Forget!”