Delivering the Final 747s for Our Customers

Spotlight on Tom Vize, 747 Fleet Captain

Atlas 747 Fleet Captain and Designated Examiner Tom Vize.

The 747 holds a special place in Atlas 747 Fleet Captain and Designated Examiner Tom Vize’s heart.

“As a child, I dreamed of flying the 747 one day,” said Tom. “For me, the 747 is the most iconic airplane and the most spectacular aircraft ever built.”

Tom knows he is not the only one who feels this way. Over the years he has spoken to many pilots who shared the same childhood dream.

Tom has been with Atlas for over 22 years and has flown the 747 his entire career. He has piloted 747s carrying sport teams, specialty cars, boats and holidays gifts.

Tom has traveled all over the world to more than 100 destinations – including South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and many destinations in between. He says his favorite destination is “wherever Atlas takes me next.”

Atlas 747 Fleet Captain and Designated Examiner Tom Vize in the cockpit.T

“Flying at Atlas is so unique,” said Tom. “It’s challenging and exciting from the cargo we carry to the places we go. There is no other airline that offers this kind of variety.”

Tom has many fond memories of flying the 747 over the years, but there are two that are particularly memorable.

First there was the time that Tom was part of the crew bringing two Navy SEALs, along with all of their equipment from Japan to Guam in 2006.

“We invited the U.S. Navy SEALs to join us in the cockpit, and they thought it was just the coolest thing,” said Tom. “We were so proud to play a role in getting them safely to their next mission.”

Captain Vize’ son, Brandon Eastland, during his time as a United States Army Cavalry Scout.

The other memory is a bit more personal. In 2010, Tom’s son, Brandon, a United States Army Cavalry Scout stationed in Germany, was deploying with his troop to Afghanistan. Tom was scheduled to pilot a flight into RAM, just as his son was about to depart on that Atlas 747 piloted by a colleague.

“I was so grateful that I was able to see Brandon before he left and tell him face-to-face how proud I was of him,” said Tom.

The two were able to spend a few minutes together before the flight. While onboard, each member of the Atlas flight crew took the time to introduce themselves to Brandon and get to know him. It is a special memory for both father and son.

As Atlas takes delivery of the final four 747-8 freighters Boeing will produce, Tom is both proud and sentimental.

Captain Vize (left) with Captain Joe Masone touring the Boeing factory to see the final 747s.

“To see the last 747-8 freighters being built is a bit poignant,” said Tom. “The aircraft has had a long and impressive career. It is a super reliable airplane and can take passengers and cargo anywhere in the world. To be a part of the celebration of the final aircraft is a great honor.”

Tom recently flew the first and second acceptance flights for N860GT and N861GT with his friend and colleague Captain Joe Masone. Tom piloted the plane while Joe rode on the aircraft overseeing the functional checks and system tests.

Captain Joe Masone (left) and Captain Tom Vize touring the Boeing factory to see the final 747s.

“Joe and I met 25 years ago,” said Tom. “Joe was a Captain and Check Airman, and he conducted my 747 training. Joe left that airline to move to Polar and it was through him that I found my way to Atlas Air. It was a real full-circle moment for me to fly with him on these flights.”