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John Mulzac

Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) John Mulzac began his career in 1942 as one of the original Tuskegee Airmen. Joining at the age of 19, Mulzac spent the next 41 years piloting various aircraft. He served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. Early in his pilot training while flying solo above Birmingham, Alabama, he turned the plane over and was flying inverted. Due to the gravity-feed fuel system, the engine soon quit, and Mulzac found himself in a quiet, powerless aircraft. He discovered the controls were stuck, and the aircraft was losing altitude. Preparing to jump from his plane, Mulzac looked back to see what had happened with the tail. He saw a microphone cable in the back seat looped around the stick and pulled on it. He then kicked the rudder as hard as he could and managed to right his aircraft. After safely landing, his instructors heard what happened and told him he would go on to be a successful pilot. Mulzac retired in 1983 after completing more than 15,000 flying hours. A few years later, he became a New York City firefighter, retiring after 20 years. Mulzac said he, “had been to a thousand places all over the world,” but when asked about his favorite place, he said his answer is always the same. “This great country right here. It’s the best in the world. Where else could I have become a lieutenant colonel flying airplanes without even finishing high school?”