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Captain Frank Vincent
Continental Airlines

Lillie and Captain Frank Vincent

Retirement Flight 1982

Los Angeles International Airport

Frank retired from Continental Airlines in 1982. The last few years of his career, he and Lillie moved from Colorado to Hawaii as he was flying between Hawaii and New Zealand. Continental Airlines, as well as other airlines, required pilots to retire on their 61st birthday. On the last leg of his last flight from Honolulu to LAX, the airline invited him to bring members of his family. An executive from the airline was on board the flight to honor Frank. The airline provided cake for all of the passengers.  When they arrived in Los Angeles, his brother Herb, and sister-in-law Velma, were there to greet them. Herb and Velma decorated the terminal congratulating Frank on his retirement. The DC 10 that Frank flew was one of the most luxurious commercial airplanes of the early 1980's. Continental was a premiere airline from the 1934 to 2012. 

How Frank became an aviator:

Flossie was very aware that her eldest son Frank would never make a good farmer. He disliked everything about it. She recalled him trying to milk the cows; he hated the job and what a poor job he did—not stripping them properly tended to dry them up. He loved machinery and tinkering with old cars—one, in particular, his “bug”, a model T Ford, was his real joy. He was also fascinated with aviation and had been from the time that he paid a dollar to ride in a small barnstorming plane that had landed on the benchland above the Grantsdale property. He wanted wings!


It was for these reasons that, upon his graduation from high school in 1939, the decision was made to take him to California to attend Curtis Wright Technical Institute in Glendale where he could begin his career in aviation.

Frank's mother Flossie was quite a character! She was a gregarious extrovert without filters. She loved people and would strike up conversations with people whom she had never met. Because she was Frank’s mother, she got to fly for free on Continental. Being a good son, Frank would arrange for her to travel on flights in which he was the pilot to ensure her transportation to and from the airport. She was so proud of Frank, that she would tell everyone who would listen that her son was the pilot. Frank’s daughter, Sallie, reminded me of the story when was Flossie was placed in first class, and unbeknownst to Frank until just before takeoff, Robert F. Six, The CEO of Continental Airlines, was seated right next to Flossie. Frank was a nervous wreck throughout the flight wondering if Flossie was annoying Mr. Six, and what she was talking to him about.


Sallie also shared the story that one of the planes that Frank flew early in his career with the airline had poor heat in the cockpit on the left side of the airplane where the captain sits. Frank needed his right arm free to work the flight controls, so Flossie knitted him a one-armed sweater to keep him warm! Not sure if he ever wore the sweater.

Editor's note: 

Frank completed his studies at Curtis Wright Technical Institute in Glendale and went on to become a Captain for Continental Airlines for over 30 years. During his career he flew a number of aircraft from DC 3's to the DC 10. He had several routes from the DC 3 days of flying over New Mexico, Arizona and California. In the later part of his career he flew DC 10's over the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii and New Zealand. He retired from Continental in 1982. In addition to being a pilot, Frank was also a licensed airplane mechanic. When Frank was flying for Continental, his family got to fly for free! Flossie enjoyed numerous flights to visit family members all across America and vacationed in Hawaii. Of course, Flossie bragged to everyone from the ticket counter to the flight attendants that her son, Frank was a Captain for Continental Airlines. Flossie was incredibly proud of each of her four children.

I was always very proud of my Uncle Frank. Not only could he fly jet airplanes and repair them, he also built a beautiful family cabin in Tabernash, Colorado, near Winter Park.

Frank's Retirement Flight 
Continental Airlines

Frank and Herb Vincent

Lillie and Velma Vincent

Frank's brother, Herb & Frank's son Steve

Frank Vincent enjoyed piloting the DC-10. It was the last commercial airplane he flew. A few years after his retirement, Frank and Lillie traveled to Europe, and on the return flight to the United States, Frank got the visit the cockpit and discovered the plane they were flying on was the exact plane he had flown on his last flight! Note: Like cars, airplanes have VIN numbers.

The McDonnell Douglas DC-10 was an American three–engine jet wide-body airliner manufactured by McDonnell Douglas. The DC-10 was intended to succeed the DC-8 for long-range flights. It first flew on August 29, 1970; it was introduced into service on August 5, 1971.

The trijet has two turbofans on underwing pylons and a third one at the base of the vertical stabilizer. The twin-aisle layout has a typical seating for 270 in two classes. The initial DC-10-10 had a 3,500 nmi (6,500 km) range for transcontinental flights. The DC-10-15 had more powerful engines for hot and high airports. The DC-10-30 and −40 models (with a third main landing gear leg to support higher weights) each had intercontinental ranges of up to 5,200 nmi (9,600 km).

A design flaw in the original cargo doors caused a poor safety record in early operations. Following the American Airlines Flight 191 crash (the deadliest aviation accident in US history), the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all U.S. DC-10s in June 1979. In August 1983, McDonnell Douglas announced that production would end due to a lack of orders, as it had a widespread public apprehension after the 1979 crash and a poor fuel economy reputation. Design flaws were rectified and fleet hours increased, for a safety record later comparable to similar era passenger jets.

Production ended in 1989, with 386 delivered to airlines. The DC-10 outsold the similar Lockheed L-1011 TriStar. In February 2014, the DC-10 made its last commercial passenger flight. Cargo airlines continued to operate it as a freighter. A few DC-10s have been converted for aerial firefighting use.


Source: Wikipedia, 2022

Frank's Career with Continental Airlines 
Spanned over 30 years

Captain Frank Vincent

Continental Airlines 1950's

DC 3 Airplane

Built by the Douglas Aircraft Company

More than 16,000 DC-3s and military version C-47s were built in 50-plus variants,

and about 300 are still flying today! 

The DC-3 was built in the early days of the commercial air travel industry

when traveling by air was much riskier and arduous, before the DC-3 came along.

The captain's uniform is designated

with four gold stripes.

Continental Airlines

Flight Attendants Uniforms in the 1980's

Submitted by, Bob Vincent

April 29, 2022

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