Vaughn Pago Phipps, is a testament to living your life to the fullest means sometimes keeping your head in the clouds, literally.
On Saturday, Nov. 4, at the age of 74, Pago (as he is referred to by his friends) successfully landed an airplane in Honolulu, Hi. The element that makes this landing historical, is that Hawaii was the last remaining state in North America to enable Pago to say he flew and landed a place in all 50 of the United States.
Dr. Chad Garrison, a fellow pilot and president of the Black Pilots Association said, “Pago is an exceptional pilot. I attribute a great deal of my successfully completing an emergency landing due to the advice Pago game me about high altitude aerial recovery techniques."
Page earned his aviation license in 1993. Since then he has owned and flow the following aircraft:
Skipper, Sundowner, Comanche, and his current airplane, the Bonanza.
Difficulty nor distance would hinder Pago’s passion to landing in all 50 states. Before Hawaii, Pago had to conquer the challenge of landing his plane in Alaska. From the contiguous states, the closet tip of Alaskan landing space is in a town called, Ketchikan, Alaska. Pago took off from Chattanooga and flew cross country in two to three hour flying segments until reaching Seattle, Wa. From Seattle, Pago flew to Ketchikan, Ak; landed, had dinner, spent the night, and then flew back to Chattanooga.
Before Hawaii, in each of the previous 49 states, Pago landed his personal airplane in each state. Considering the fuel capacity enabling Pago’s aircraft to fly approximately five nonstop hours at top speed, the flight time and distance to Hawaii exceeded his plane’s capability.
This was just another one of many challenges Pago had to creatively overcome. While fulfilling another aspiration on his bucket list of seeing Pearl Harbor, Pago took advantage of already being in the state of Hawaii. Before arriving in Hawaii, Pago called ahead and was able to negotiate an agreement with a local flight school. Pago rented one of the flight school’s airplanes for two hours. Pago flew the plane one hour from Honolulu to the island of Oahu and back. This enabled Pago to land in all 50 states; including two Hawaiian Islands.
Pago is a Chattanooga native and 36-year employee of the Chattanooga headquartered company, Air and Hydraulic Equipment. He is the father of three sons, Tony, Vaughn, and Vincent. He has been married for 42 years to Ola Phipps.
When asked about his next adventure, Pago said, “I don’t know. I have been fortunate to live a pretty good life. My bucket list is getting shorter.”