Homage to Richard “Lary” Loretto

Homage to Richard “Lary” Loretto
On July 19 2018, Richard “Lary” Loretto made his Great Exit, as he once called it. Lary
served with the RCAF and the RNZAF, and among many piloting jobs, flew 33 years
for Air Canada. He was also a champion for women in flight.
I met Lary at Lachute Aviation while I was working on my PPL. Retired from airline
piloting, he was flying charter and his C421 Golden Eagle was hangared across the
runway. I was always glad to see him around the flight school because he spiced
things up and I knew I’d hear some good stories from the old days. He was a
scrapper with a big heart and a wicked sense of humor. He told me many times that
when I’d completed my PPL and night rating, he’d take me on in the Golden Eagle,
but I figured it was hot air. Who would take a 40-year-old PPL under his wing when
there were crops of young men with Multi-IFRs to pick from? Well Lary was a man of
his word and I wasn’t the first woman pilot he took under his wing. Lary shared his
time, his cockpit and his 30,000+ flight hours of experience to help women, in his
own words, “break through the glass ceiling in piloting.” He gave us paid work,
training, flight hours, real-world experience, and support as we worked towards
higher ratings. He never got public accolades and he never asked for anything in
return.
I flew right seat with Lary in the Golden Eagle for six months. He taught me
everything from hangar to cockpit, ground to altitude. Training with Lary was hard
but exhilarating. There were some gritty bits, including a dicey missed approach, and
an attempt to penetrate a squall line before finally diverting. You can’t get that kind
of white-knuckle experience in flight school and that was one of Lary’s best gifts to
me.
I got to know him during long layovers, in diners and FBOs. He had a big family he
was proud of, including two daughters in aviation, one of whom is a pilot. He was
always working on something too, at home on his farm, or on his own aircraft—toil
seemed a natural pleasure to him. In his free time he’d take me around to see his
beloved Hornet Moth or meet old aviation legends like the late George Neal. Lary
was a mentor, forty years my senior and a hundred times the experience, but he
treated me like a friend.
I will miss him. But every flight with the legendary Lary Loretto was a vivid adventure
that I carry in my heart. And in this life, that is one of the greatest gifts a girl with
new wings could ask for.
Chloé Collins

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