Here is the story on Ed Maxwell, who lives here in Louisville and flies his (now) A300 from SDF
aircraft out of Bowman Field (LOU
). I had the chance to talk to him a couple of times, very down to earth.
From the AOPA website... www.aopa.org
Most people envision a Boeing 747 captain as a person with gray hair and half-rim glasses — someone who is old enough to have a recollection of where he was when JFK
was assassinated. Ed Maxwell has jet black hair and perfect vision, and he wasn't yet born on November 22, 1963. How did Maxwell, 32 years old and a 747 captain for 7 years, become probably the youngest 747 captain in the world?
Maxwell's introduction to airplanes came through aircraft. As a youngster, he flew control-line s near his San Francisco Bay area home. Later, a World War II
B-17 pilot taught him to fly radio-controlled s.
A pair of Hughes Air West pilots provided his first ride in a general aviation airplane. "These guys would build radio-controlled s and go out and crash 'em," says Maxwell. "I was teaching them how not to crash, and they took me for a ride in a Cherokee of some kind."
Maxwell started flying lessons before he turned 15. "I didn't know where I was going," he says. "I was just going up and boring holes in the sky." Evidently he figured out where he wanted to go. He soloed on his sixteenth birthday and got his private on his seventeenth. "I had about 200 hours when I got my private," says Maxwell. "My logbook was full of cross-country endorsements." On his eighteenth birthday, Maxwell passed his commercial certificate and multiengine rating checkride. Soon after came the flight instructor certificates and ratings.
After high school, he enrolled in the aviation program at San Jose State University. When not in class, he worked tracking flights for express package carrier DHL Airways and as a flight instructor at Bay area airports. He also got to fly a Douglas DC-8 simulator, courtesy of a family friend who worked for an airline operating that aircraft.
In 1984, 2 years out of high school, Maxwell learned that a New York-based airline operating DC-8s was looking for pilots. He passed a DC-8 simulator evaluation and, with 1,000 hours in his logbook, he was soon flying as copi Europe, Africa, and Asia. After a year and 800 hours of flying for the financially unstable operation, Maxwell returned to California to fly Metroliners for commuter airline Wings West.
After 5 months of the up-and-down life of a commuter pilot, he signed on as a copilot with a Detroit-based DC-8 operator. A year later, Maxwell heard from a DHL acquaintance that an airline flying DC-8s, International Parcel Express (IPX), was being formed in the Bay area by DHL Airways and United Parcel Service to bid for a cargo route to Japan. His résumé soon found its way to Alf E. (Chris) Christiansen, who was in charge of the start-up operation.
"I was curious and very interested in interviewing Maxwell after reading his résumé," says Christiansen. "I remember reviewing his application and was quite surprised to see how much DC-8 time he had accumulated." Included with his résumé was a letter from the FAA stating that Maxwell's ATP certificate with a DC-8 type rating would become valid on his twenty-third birthday, more than a year away. After flying a simulator evaluation "flawlessly," says Christiansen, Maxwell was hired as a DC-8 copilot on August 25, 1986.
The airline failed to win the Japan route, but UPS had other plans for it. At the time, UPS operated its package carrying service through a network of contract carriers that provided crew and maintenance for aircraft UPS owned. This system was becoming unwieldy as it grew, so UPS decided to bring all functions in house and form its own airline.
UPS acquired DHL's interest in the FAR
Part 121 certificate held by IPX and used it to create the new UPS airline. Maxwell and the other 24 pilots at IPX came with the certificate, and they formed the very top of the UPS pilot seniority list.
Maxwell turned 23 shortly after UPS announced that it was forming an airline. He would hold pilot seniority number 9.
After some initial management reluctance to the idea of such a young captain, Maxwell checked out as a DC-8 captain in October 1989. In May 1990, at age 25, he added a B-747 type rating to his pilot certificate and has been flying the "whale" to Asia and Europe as captain since then.
Maxwell says that the 747 is a great-flying airplane. "It's easy to land once you get used to the sight picture," he says.
Glenn Cooper, a 747 first officer at UPS, has flown with Maxwell many times. "I have always found him to be the epitome of professionalism in his pit duties and a true joy to be with outside the pit, as well," Cooper says.
Remaining active in general aviation throughout his flying career, Maxwell has owned four airplanes — a Luscombe 8E; a Smith Mini Plane; a Mooney 201; and his current airplane, a Piper Twin Comanche.
The Twin Comanche, a low-time 1966 , was an upgrade project abandoned by its former owner, who had installed remanufactured engines, a one-piece windshield, speed mods, and tip tanks. Maxwell finished the project by installing a new custom-made instrument panel with an air data computer, three-axis autopilot, HSI, and IFR GPS.
Being at the right place at the right time had a do with Maxwell's aviation success, but — like a lot of fortunate people — his luck came when preparation met opportunity.