George R. Mendonca
Birth Date: September 17, 1934Death Date: June 25, 2019
George R. Mendonca, of San Mateo, California, passed away in his own home on June 25, 2019. George was born on September 17, 1934 in Placerville, California, to George and Lois Mendonca. He was an only child. In 1958 George married Roberta McClellan and he was the beloved father to three of his own daughters and one adopted daughter. The marriage eventually ended and he never remarried.
From the time George was a small boy he wanted to be a pilot, but he never dreamed that one day that might come true. He attended El Dorado County High School where he was on the varsity track team. He then attended Sacramento Junior College to become an aircraft mechanic and went on to work for Pan American World Airways in 1955. In 1957 he joined the US Air Force Aviation Cadet Pilot training program in Lubbock, Texas. He got his wings May, 1958. In the Air Force George flew the KC97G and KC135A tankers until June 1965 when he was honorably discharged from the military. In June 1965 he joined United Airlines as a B727 flight engineer. He transitioned to the B737 as First Officer in September 1968, and became Captain in 1985. He retired from United Airlines in 1994, after 29 years of service and a spotless safety record.
After retirement George stayed active in many circles: he was a member of the United Flying Club, the United Guppy Group, the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and the Union of Flying Octogenarians (UFOs). He built and flew his own kit airplanes (P51 Mustang and RV4) and flew avidly for many years after retirement. One of his greatest passions was participating in Young Eagles, a program dedicated to giving youth ages 8–17 their first free ride in an airplane. He flew over 1800 kids in his time with the Young Eagles from 1995 – 2015. George volunteered as a docent for over 20 years at the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos.
The actual cockpit from the 737 he flew at the time of his retirement is on display there, and he would talk with groups of kids and other visitors about being a pilot in the airlines. George established an Endowed Scholarship Fund for aviation students at Embry Riddle University in Prescott, Arizona. He wanted to help young people turn their love of aviation into a learning and career opportunity.
George was a member and served for many years at First Presbyterian Church of San Mateo. At his home in San Mateo, George loved to do crossword puzzles, Sudoku puzzles and jigsaw puzzles. He also loved to find opportunities for humor, and would usually have a humorous comic or saying to share with visitors and friends.
George was preceded in death by his youngest daughter, Darci, and is survived by daughters, Holly (Edes), Toni (Wetjen) and Jennie (McClellan), and by five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.