Hawaiian Airlines Capt. Mark Taintor and his son Randy flew together as pilot and copilot on a number of flights in the months before Mark retired. CLICK FOR LARGE
Flying is in the Taintors' genes
Three generations of this family have worked in aviation
When Randy Taintor was 16, the engine in the single-engine 1964 Aeronca Chief he and his father were flying began losing power over the Grand Canyon.
But there was no panic because the teenager knew he was in good hands.
His father, pilot Mark Taintor of Hawaiian Airlines, remained composed gliding on updrafts created from the winds blowing against the canyon wall to safely land the aircraft on an abandoned airstrip.
"He was calm as can as can be. He showed a lot of character. I wanted to be like that," the junior Taintor said.
At that moment, Randy Taintor decided to follow in his father's footsteps.
Now 29, Randy Taintor is the youngest active pilot with Hawaiian Airlines.
The Taintors, former longtime Hawaii residents who now live in Seattle, share a common bond in aviation that spans three generations.
Capt. Mark Taintor, 60, retired last month after 29 years with Hawaiian Airlines.
During his career, he trained about 80 percent of the company's pilots, flew soldiers to the Gulf War and flew famed aviator Charles Lindbergh to Honolulu from Maui for medical treatments before Lindbergh died of cancer.
Mark Taintor's wife, Renee, was a flight attendant with United Airlines for 36 years before she retired. Her mother, Helen Clark, was the first adjutant for the Civil Air Patrol in California in the mid-1940s.
The Taintors' love of aviation also seeped into their children. Daughter Lauren, 25, also is a pilot.
Mark Taintor said he was an 18-year-old school bus driver when he took his first flight.
He said he took a group of kids to an area flight school for a field trip. A 17-year-old boy invited him for a quick ride, and they spent an hour doing loops and spins in the air. Taintor was hooked.
"I said I've got to do this," Mark Taintor said. "I just fell in love with flying and (have) been in love with this ever since."
Coincidentally, the boy who took Taintor on his first flight, Peter Beckner, now serves as manager of the Federal Aviation Administration's Flight Standards District Office in Hawaii.
Mark Taintor and his wife, who have known each other since they were 15, moved to Hawaii about 30 years ago. He worked for Alii Air Hawaii, Panorama Air Tours and Royal Hawaiian Air Service before his career at Hawaiian Airlines.
Working in the aviation industry allowed the couple's children to travel around the world.
Both also benefited from having their father teach them how to fly. "I was probably tougher on them than I was on my normal students and a little more demanding," Mark Taintor said.
Randy Taintor served as a flight instructor in Arizona and Honolulu before he was hired as a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines at age 21.
Flying was something at which the junior Taintor was a natural. "I think it's a gene type of thing. Dad was good at it. He passed it on to me," he said.
Many of his father's colleagues compare him to his father. "He left huge shoes to fill," Randy Taintor said.
Lauren was a music major at Cyprus College in California when she decided to become a pilot. "I didn't know if music was going to take me where I wanted to in life. ... It just got to the point, I really wanted to buckle down and be a pilot," she said.
Along with her father's flight instruction, Lauren also received guidance from her older brother. "He'll give me a different point of view on it," she said.
In the months before his father retired, Randy served as his father's co-pilot on a number of flights and flew with him on his last commercial flight to Seattle from Honolulu.
Now that he's retired, Mark Taintor said his ultimate dream is to see his daughter as his son's co-pilot.
"That would be wonderful to see them flying together," he said.