Aviation Leadership Breakfast

2008 Speaker Biographies

Franklin Graham

Captain Jim Tucker
Survivor and Hero of 1994 FedEx hijacking

James Morgan Tucker, born 1951, went to college looking at a law career before a carrier aviation poster in the recruiter's office caught his eye. In the Navy, he flew two carrier tours in A7s, stateside he flew as a weapons instructor and a combat maneuvering instructor in the A-4. After the Navy he flew B-737s for People Express. In 1984, he started flying B-727s with FedEx, then advanced to DC-10s, becoming a captain, check airman/flex instructor in the DC-10. Below are brief excerpted clips (with permission) from Joe Godfrey.

Joe Godfrey: "Tell us what you can about the attack. What lessons are there about how to handle an emergency?"

Jim Tucker: "Every situation is different, and you just have to deal with what you've got at the time. Then again, it's the lesson we're always taught: Fly the airplane.

"We had passed 10,000 feet so it wasn't a sterile cockpit. We were shooting the breeze... ...We were passing through 18,000 feet and resetting altimeters, and everybody's back was turned to Auburn. I don't know if he was waiting for that moment, but it was shortly after that when I heard a horrible sound. I had never heard a sound like that on an airplane in my life. It was a ghastly sound, with a metallic quality. As horrible as it sounds, that metallic ring was the hammer peening off the skull of Andy Peterson. I heard it two or three times, and a lot of thrashing around back there. As I turned to my left, I was hit in the left parietal area (the area over the left ear) and the hammer penetrated the skull and drove bone fragments into the brain. I lost useful consciousness for about 45 seconds. I was hand-flying the airplane... ...After I was hit I could see what was going on around me. I could see Auburn go over and attack David... ...I was watching the blood fly, and there was a tremendous amount of it. About that time Auburn left abruptly, and we know now that he was going to get his spear gun, either to administer the coup de grace, or to try and get us to do his bidding with the airplane.

"Even in that mental state, I reasoned that Auburn's primary purpose in attacking was to take control of the aircraft. We were insignificant, disposable assets to be thoughtlessly dispatched. He had a definite mission, and we were in the way. He was cold, calculating and focused... He could have flamed out the engines, disabled the ignition, and there was no way we could have restarted the engines fighting him off. So I knew that he wanted the airplane. I could see David trying to unstrap and fight, and I could see Andy trying to gain his feet. I didn't know how seriously Andy was injured, but his temporal artery had been cut and his heart was pumping his blood over the side.... ...I had gone numb on the right side almost immediately after the hammer blow.

"...That's when Auburn emerged with a spear gun. It was divine intervention nothing will ever shake my resolve on that for we were dead men! Immediately I realized that the only thing that I had to fight with was the airplane. I pulled back on the yoke aggressively and David, Andy and Auburn exited the cockpit. They were all gone! They had all tumbled into the back. I was going to roll the airplane, but I was also thinking that Auburn might figure out that what I was going to do was a modified barrel roll, that he would just wait for it to come right side up again. I could hear yelling and fighting, but I didn't know who's winning. I didn't know if I was helping or hurting the situation. So I stopped the roll at 140 degrees according to the flight data recorder and kind of split-S'd it from about 18,000 feet to about 12,000... ...There was a lot of wind noise and I could feel the airplane entering mach tuck - buffeting..."***Jim's professional flying career was cut short by injuries sustained during the attempted hijack. He has received numerous individual military aviation awards. Collectively the crew of FedEx 705 received ALPA's Gold Medal award for heroism, and the Order of Daedalians, Lieutenant General Harold L. George Civilian Airmanship Award. Jim is still a positive man with a deep faith in God. He moved his family from Memphis to a rural area in the southeast. He is a dedicated husband, father of three, active with his local airport authority and interim lay minister at a Lutheran church. He keeps his Luscombe which he flies with a friend as PIC and an Airbike ultralight near his home.

In 1997, Dave Hirshman wrote an excellent book about Jim, Dave, Andy and their attacker. Used copies of Hijacked The True Story of the Heroes of Flight 705, are available through Amazon.com.

Dan T. Cathy
Dan T. Cathy
President and Chief Operating Officer

As president of one of the nation's largest family owned businesses, Chick-fil-A's Dan Cathy represents the next generation of leadership for the Atlanta-based quick-service chicken restaurant chain founded by his father, S. Truett Cathy. Eager to incorporate his own skills and talents into the business, Dan has taken an unconventional, yet personally and professionally rewarding approach to Chick-fil-A leadership.

Since 2001, Dan has served as the president and chief operating officer of the 1,250-plus unit chain, but he also has personally challenged himself with upholding Chick-fil-A’s efforts to provide genuine, heartfelt hospitality, and ensuring that customers chain wide have an exceptional dining experience when visiting a Chick-fil-A restaurant. In his quest to provide customers with “second-mile” service (exceeding even the highest expectations of a typical fast-food restaurant), Dan has defined a special role for himself – humbly saying, “I work in customer service.”

Rather than leading from his corporate office in Atlanta, Dan chooses to spend the majority of his time traveling to the chain’s growing family of restaurants and interacting with Chick fil-A’s committed team of restaurant Operators and team members. His actions stem from a belief that working in the field provides a clearer understanding of the ever-evolving wants and needs of Chick-fil-A customers, and leading from the front line also enables him to personally convey his servant spirit to the chain’s 45,000-plus employees.

The majority of his travels include participating in grand opening ceremonies for new Chick-fil-A restaurants. In yet another example of how he keeps in tune with customers and employees, Dan attended more than 40 restaurant openings last year and spent 23 nights camping out in restaurant parking lots along with hundreds of customers vying for a chance to win free Chick-fil-A for a year as part of a special customer-focused promotion the chain conducts in conjunction with new restaurant openings … “I’m having the most fun I have ever had at Chick-fil-A.”

Four major marketplace awards recently have affirmed the commitment and performance of Chick-fil-A Operators and team members. In 2006 Chick-fil-A received Restaurant & Institutions magazine’s “Choice in Chains” award for the 12th time in 13 years. Additionally, in 2004, Chick-fil-A was recognized as the “Best Drive-Thru in America” in QSR Magazine’s Drive-Thru Time Study; was honored with Fast Company magazine’s inaugural “Customer First” award and was the highest rated quick-service chain in the South in J.D. Power and Associate’s Customer Satisfaction survey.

Dan's nearly lifelong career at Chick-fil-A began at age nine as he sang songs for customers and did radio commercials for the chain's original "Dwarf House" restaurant in Hapeville, Ga. After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Georgia Southern University, Dan returned to Chick-fil-A where he served as director of operations – opening more than 50 new Chick-fil-A restaurants throughout the country. As Chick-fil-A continued to grow, so did Dan's responsibilities with the company. His steady rise through the ranks of senior director of operations, vice president of operations, executive vice president, and most recently, president, is a testament to his dedication to the Chick-fil-A brand and its long-held principles and traditions.

As dedicated to Chick-fil-A as he is, Dan also finds time to give generously of his time and efforts in the community. Following is just a partial list of his awards, affiliations and associations:

  • Member, Board of Trustees, Berry College
  • Member, Board of Advisors, Berry College's Campbell School of Business
  • Member, Board of Councilors of The Carter Center
  • Member of the New Hope Baptist Church (and trumpet player in the church band)
  • Member, Foundation of Gordon College
  • Member, Board of Advisors, Eagle Ranch
  • Member of the International Society of Business Fellows
  • Board Member, Junior Achievement of Georgia (and volunteer at Tri-Cities High School in College Park, Ga. since 1998)
  • Recipient of the Buckhead Rotary Humanitarian Award – 2002
  • Inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame – 2003
  • Honorary Doctorate Degree from the State University of West Georgia
  • Honorary Doctorate of Humanities Degree from Anderson College - 2005
And in his "spare" time, Dan has completed the owner/management course at Harvard Business School, is a type-rated pilot in both the CJ2+ and the Falcon 50-4. He is a member of the Chick-fil-A corporate flight department who regularly flies over 400 hours per year. He has run in and completed numerous marathons in Atlanta, Orlando, Los Angeles, Boston and New York. Additionally, Dan is a passionate trumpet player and an avid motorcyclist.

A native of Jonesboro, Georgia, Dan has been married to the former Rhonda Palmer (whom he met while in the 1st grade at age 6) for more than 30 years, and has two sons, Andrew and Ross.

His personal passion is to see the fulfillment of the Chick-fil-A Corporate Purpose: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.

Franklin Graham
Growing Up Graham
“Just being the son of Billy Graham won’t get me into heaven.”
Franklin Graham, 1996

William Franklin Graham III, born July 14, 1952, is the fourth of five children of evangelist Billy Graham and his wife, Ruth Bell Graham. Raised in a log home in the Appalachian Mountains outside Asheville, N.C., Franklin now lives in the mountains of Boone, N.C.

At age 22, after a period of rebellion and traveling the world, Franklin committed his life to Jesus Christ while alone in a hotel room in Jerusalem. Soon after, Dr. Bob Pierce, founder of Samaritan’s Purse, invited Franklin to join him on a six-week mission to Asia. It was during that time that Franklin felt a calling to work with hurting people in areas of the world affected by war, famine, disease, poverty, and natural disaster.

Franklin Graham the International Relief Worker

“I’ve been called to the slums of the streets and the ditches of the world.”
Franklin Graham, 1998

Franklin was elected to the Board of Samaritan’s Purse in 1978, and one year later, following the death of
Dr. Pierce, he was elected president of the organization. Today, he serves as president and CEO of the international relief organization headquartered in Boone, N.C. Samaritan’s Purse has an annual budget of $260 million and provides relief and assistance in more than 100 countries worldwide. It has international offices in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia plus field offices in more than 20 developing countries.

Franklin Graham the Evangelist
“Evangelistic preaching is what Daddy does, I never thought I would.”
Franklin Graham, 1995

Franklin conducted his first evangelistic event in 1989 and committed to spend 10 percent of his time preaching. Now he conducts Festivals around the world as an evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). Since 1989, he has preached to more than 4 million people in cities from Johannesburg, South Africa to Tupelo, Mississippi. Franklin’s 2006 Festival schedule includes events in Manila, Philippines; New Orleans, La.; Angola Prison in Angola, La: Mobile, Ala.; Baltimore, Md.; Quito, Ecuador; Winnipeg, Canada; and Okinawa, Japan.

The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association appointed Franklin Graham CEO in 2000 and president of the organization in 2001. He has served as first vice-chairman of the BGEA since 1995.

Franklin has authored several books, including The Name (Thomas Nelson, 2002), All for Jesus (coauthored with Ross Rhoads, Thomas Nelson, 2003), Living Beyond the Limits: A Life in Sync with God (Thomas Nelson, 1998), and his autobiography, Rebel With a Cause: Finally Comfortable Being Graham (Thomas Nelson, 1995).

Franklin and his wife, Jane, live in North Carolina and have four children, Will, Roy, Edward, and Cissie, and four grandchildren.