The Estrella WarBirds Museum is fortunate in having as a member and director, one of the top master aircraft mechanics in the nation, Al Schade. He has had remarkable careers in aviation for more than a half-century — and that plural is intentional. For over 50 years Al has carried an A&P license, Ground Instructor and Commercial Flight Instructor licences with instrument and multi-engine ratings in some 50 types of aircraft.
Al enlisted in the Marine Corps shortly after Pearl Harbor bombing and served four years as an aerial gunner and plane captain with the 1st Marine Air Wings. Al was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1946.
During the years 1946 - 1948, Al flew charter for Kerrville Flying Service and taught flying.
In 1948 Al became a business owner at Orange County Airport (now John Wayne Airport) buying surplus military aircraft and converting them for general aviation, and continued to teach flying. When general aviation took a nose dive in 1950, the business was folded and he hired on with North American Aviation. In August, 1950 was recalled into Marine Corps and spent one year in combat as a fire-team leader in Korea.
In September, 1951, Al returned to North American Aviation, Space Division, where he served for 32 years as an engineer in space research and development. During this time, Al Schade was a project engineer on a number of space programs: Navajo, Apollo, Apollo-Soyuz, and the Space Shuttle. Al was the responsible project engineer on the Challenger space craft, a 10-year exercise, retiring in January, 1982.
Al continues to fly and work on aircraft.