Tom Clodfelter

Aviator

On Pearl Harbor Day (Dec 7), 1969 at dawn, Tom soloed and received his pilot's license soon after. By FAA standards, he was officially color blind and had to prove his competency which was done on June 30, 1970. Below, he updated his license with the anticipation that helicopter rating would be added to it.

FAA License

At one time, he worked as a computer consultant to Delta airlines. And instead of being paid in cash, he asked to be paid in L-1011 simulator time. Delta agreed, but simulator time was alotted to pilots, first. Tom generally had his slot time at 2 am. He loved every second of it.

Arecibo

In 1982, Tom worked at Arecibo in Puerto Rico. He was instrumental in the discovery of the 600 millisecond pulsar. (Current physics theory at the time could not handle the idea of such a large object spinning that quickly.) Tom was responsible for the rewrite of much of the telescope pointing system. He was given test time to validate his work. His friend, a very junior astronomer had requested antenna time to search for fast orbiting pulsars, which was denied. (It was thought the request a fool's errand.) So, Tom used his test time to assist his friend and point to the region of space where they suspected an extremely fast pulsar existed. They were right. Tom used to boast that he was the only amateur astronomer allowed to use the world’s largest radio telescope

Police Officer
Police Officer Tom's Police Car

Tom began his police work as a dispatcher, then he became a law enforcement officer, and later a SWAT team member. I remember asking him if he was ever scared, or ever felt threatened. He just shook his head no. Although he was exposed to many dangerous situations, he claimed nothing that he experienced as a police officer matched the terror he experienced when a 600 pound lion "wants to kill you." He talked about an old lion (not of Tom's tribe) that was being transported to another area of the park and was not properly restrained. Tom thought that this lion had possibly been abused in his earlier years, for he was so distrustful of any human. The lion came within inches of mauling Tom. Tom said there's nothing quite like seeing the hate, the anger in the eyes of a wild lion and smelling its breath as it is about to attack.

Fly The Ford

Fly The Ford

The Ford Tri-Motor was a passenger aircraft that was built between 1925-1933. It was visiting Bentonville (Thaden Field, VBT), in June, 2019. I found the most perfect birthday present for Tom! So, I took a day off work, got to VBT early and made sure he was able to ride shotgun (aka "co-pilot").

Fly The Ford

VBT is the home of pioneer aviatrix Louise Thaden, who set many endurance records in the late 1920s such as: solo endurance and altitude. The red car in the hangar was hers.
Fun Fact: Apple's Find My Friends really works when your friends are airborne!

Tom's Magnificent Helicopter Ride

Before the covid pandemic, we practically lived at the Bentonville airport, VBT.

I was undertaking flight instruction and Tom was seriously considering returning to aviation, but this time, he was thinking about pursuing a helicopter rating. Unfortunatley, he passed before he could realize this dream.

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Site maintained by Meg Clodfelter