Texas native brings Southwest Airlines retirement flight back to Amarillo with siblings as crew | KETK.com
AMARILLO, TX (KAMR/KCIT) – Thousands of passengers fly through Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas to destinations around the world.
On June 2, Larry Vaughan, a Texas native and captain of Southwest Airlines, was one of those passengers, but his trip had been planned for some time. After 31 years, he would take his retirement flight to Amarillo.
“It’s bittersweet because I love my company, I love my job. I’ll miss it, but it’s okay. We leave it in very good hands,” Larry said.
His time with Southwest is a family trait. Seven of his family members, five captains and two flight attendants, have worked for the airline – all starting with his father, Doyle.
“He was the 17th pilot for Southwest Airlines, and it was just phenomenal. And he was one of the pioneers,” Larry said.
When his dad retired, it was all up to Vaughn in the cockpit: Larry and his brothers Lynn and Kevin were all flying with dad. In 2017, the group marked the history of the company by retiring an aircraft dear to the family.
“It was plane 374. We recovered it brand new in 1993, we were able to retire this plane; the same family picked it up and took it out,” Larry said.
The family case continued aboard Southwest Flight 113 to Amarillo. His two brothers, also captains of Southwest, would join him in the cockpit for the flight. They would be joined by their sister, Terri, Lynn’s girlfriend, Cyndi, and two close friends, Karl and Debroah, all flight attendants with Southwest.
“We have a big Southwestern family,” Larry said.
“There are other airlines that wouldn’t allow family members to work in the same company,” said Larry’s brother, Captain Lynn Vaughan. “We want this airline to be family-friendly.”
Friends, family and colleagues gathered at Gate C1 of the airport to give Larry a flying start.
“He has been, as he mentioned, a great representative for Southwest Airlines. He takes care of our customers, but more importantly, he really takes care of his fellow crew members and colleagues. And you can ask anyone who flies with him. What a pleasure to fly with him. He was a great professional aviator. He did this work with humility and dedication. It’s just an honor to know him for the past few years,” said Southwest’s chief pilot for Las Vegas, Steve Durbon.
One of the passengers on the flight was Gloria ‘Glo’ Schaffer. She knew Larry’s father and worked with the three brothers at the airline.
“It’s just a very special relationship. I’m honored that they wanted me to be a part of it,” Schaffer said.
In Southwest style, it wouldn’t be a retirement flight without a party at cruising altitude.
“Let’s raise a glass to Captain Larry Vaughan,” flight attendant Karl Ingraham said over the intercom. “Here’s to your larry!”
What made the flight even more special was the fact that Larry’s mother, Marcella Crabtree, was able to be on board.
“Oh Larry, I’m telling you, it’s hard to believe that many years have passed and you’ve retired. It makes me that much older and I wish you wouldn’t do that,” Crabtree said.
“My brother and I roofed houses and built bridges for five years to get money to fly three times a day. Southwest was flying over Amarillo on the way to Albuquerque, and we were both looking up and pointing and We were like, ‘This is where we’re going to be one of these days,’ and this is where we are today,” Larry said.
Larry will stop flying when he retires. He hopes to fly private jets from Amarillo. He and a group from Blue Sky Airfield will also continue to fly their World War II biplane over events in begging.
Watch Captain Vaughan’s full gate ceremony below: