Denny Scalise's first flight lesson, 6 January 2016
Dennis Scalise came to AvSport for flight training a year and a half ago, and he very quickly became far more than just a student. As I got to know him, I realized that Denny and I shared a wide variety of interests, including electronic reconnaissance, education, computers, classic automobiles, and, of course, aviation. I knew from the start that Denny was fighting a potentially serious medical condition, but he wanted to fly as long as his health permitted, and I was honored to help him check off what (sadly) turned out to be a bucket list item. Katie Garvin, Denny's wife of 41 years, encouraged his passion for aviation, often accompanying him to the airport for his flight lessons.|
After graduating from High School in Riverside New Jersey in 1968, Denny enlisted in the United States Navy. He served there as a communications technician from 1968 until 1972 in Adak Alaska, San Miguel Philippines, and Winter Harbor, Maine. Denny was in charge of the Data Analyzing Department at Fort Apache, Philippines and received A Meritorious Citation for Intelligence Surveillance and Communication during the Vietnam War.
After four and half years of military service, Denny moved to State College, PA, where he was employed as a Computer Systems Analyst by HRB Singer (Raytheon) until 1998. Thereafter, until his retirement in 2011, he worked at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in State College. He was a dedicated professional and was awarded a Letter of Commendation from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in 2005 for his work during the Cold War on the Poppy Electronic Satellite Reconnaissance Program, commonly known as the Siss Zulu Operation.
An engineer at heart, Denny was always eager to acquire new skills and knowledge. The photo below shows him helping me to service a Rotax engine. He always envisioned himself as far more than just an airplane driver. You can see from his expression in the photo that he took his work very seriously.
Denny's illness progressed to the point that, six months into his pilot training, he chose to ground himself. Ever generous, he donated the balance of his flight school account credit to a fellow student who was lacking in financial resources. He also contributed, anonymously, to a flight training scholarship program. (He would not have wanted me to tell you this, which further testifies to Denny's generosity and humility.)
Denny and I stayed in touch, on and off, for the following year. When his condition became terminal, and I told Denny I wanted to visit with him, he demurred, saying he wanted me to remember him not as he was now, but as he had been during healthier times. And, I always shall.
Denny Scalise working on a Rotax engine in late 2015.
If you can drive, you can fly!
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This page last updated 16 July 2017
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