Thomas Fitzpatrick (pilot)
Thomas Edward Fitzpatrick
April 24, 1930
|Died||September 14, 2009 (aged 79)|
|Known for||Two intoxicated flights from New Jersey landing in New York City|
|Famous flights||"Late Night Flight"|
Thomas Edward Fitzpatrick (April 24, 1930 – September 14, 2009) nicknamed Tommy Fitz, was an American pilot known for two intoxicated flights where he flew from New Jersey and landed on the streets of New York City.
At approximately 3 a.m. on September 30, 1956, Fitzpatrick, while intoxicated, stole a single engine plane from the Teterboro School of Aeronautics at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and flew without lights or radio before landing on St. Nicholas Avenue near 191st Street in front of a New York City bar where earlier he had been drinking and made an intoxicated barroom bet that he could travel from New Jersey to New York City in 15 minutes. The New York Times called the flight a "feat of aeronautics" and a "fine landing". For his illegal flight, he was fined $100 after the plane's owner refused to press charges.
On October 4, 1958 just before 1 a.m., Fitzpatrick, again intoxicated, stole another plane from the same airfield and landed on Amsterdam and 187th street in front of a Yeshiva University building after another bar patron disbelieved his first feat. For his second stolen flight, Judge John A. Mullen sentenced him to six months in prison, stating, "Had you been properly jolted then, it’s possible this would not have occurred a second time." Fitzpatrick said "it's the lousy drink" that caused him to pull the stunt.
Local resident Jim Clarke believed that Fitzpatrick's goal was to land on the field of George Washington High School. Another resident, Sam Garcia, described how times have changed stating, "if it happened today, they would call him a terrorist, and locked him up and thrown away the key."
Fitzpatrick worked as a Steamfitter with Local #638 of New York City for 51 years. According to Fitzpatrick's brother, Fitzpatrick lied about his age in order to serve in World War II and joined the US Marine Corps at the age of 15 fighting on the Pacific theatre where he was stationed in China. Before being discharged from the Marines two years after World War II, Fitzpatrick learned to fly a reconnaissance plane. He then joined the US Army and was stationed in Japan. He was scheduled to return home when the Korean War began. Fitzpatrick became the first person from New York City to be wounded in Korea. According to one report, "he was wounded while driving an ammunition truck to rescue some American soldiers trapped by Communist fire". He received a Purple Heart for his service. He was a member of the Township of Washington Golden Seniors, Our Lady of Good Counsel Men's Group, VFW Post # 6192 of Washington Township and the China-Marines Organization.
A resident of Washington Township, Bergen County, New Jersey, Fitzpatrick died of cancer on September 14, 2009 at the age of 79. He is survived by his three sons, Thomas E. Jr, Daniel F., and Stephen P. Fitzpatrick, and his wife of 51 years, Helen (Fratinardo) Fitzpatrick.[unreliable source?]
Fitzpatrick has a mixed drink named after him for his feat called the "Late Night Flight".
- "Thomas Edward Fitzpatrick". GENi Family Tree. 2014-11-25. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
- "Again He Pulls That Stunt Of Landing Plane on Street". Eugene Register-Guard. 1958-10-05. Retrieved 2015-07-02.
- Kilgannon, Corey (4 June 2013). "Long Ago, a Pilot Landed on an Uptown Street. That's Where the Bar Was". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-07-02.
- 1956-10-01. "Flier Who Used Street As Port To Face Court" (pages 1 and 2). The Record. Archived from the original (pages 1 and 2) on 2020-05-31. Retrieved 2020-05-31. – via Newspapers.com.
- K. Thor Jensen (2013-07-10). "8 Real Real American Heroes". Mandatory. Retrieved 2015-07-02.
- Todd Van Luling (2014-04-17). "8 Things Even New Yorkers Don't Know About New York". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-07-02.
- "Double Dare and the Art of Drunken Flying…". Check-Six.com. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
- "Thomas E. FITZPATRICK's Obituary on The Record". NorthJersey.com. 2009-09-16. Retrieved 2017-04-29.
- "A Drunken Bet Leads to a Airborne Stunt". The Dinner Party Download. 2013-09-20. Retrieved 2015-07-02.