About us ...
"Capt. Larry Sez" -- and "China Nina"
Larry Jobe is a retired United Airlines B747-400 Captain and avid General Aviation pilot and instructor (and now local realtor). Larry achieved a little fame when he chartered a B747-400 from United to fly as his last flight before retirement in Jan. 2001 and invited 202 of his closest friends and family to join in on the best two-hour-plus airborne block party one can imagine! It was written up later in the Feb. 2002 issue of Pacific Flyer, among others. Just to keep the record straight, everyone kicked in $100 apiece towards the fuel, which was the big ticket item! Larry earned his nickname of "Capt. Larry Sez" as a result of teaching many of the local wives to fly. Later, when they would fly with their husbands, the guys were barraged with "Well, Larry says you should ...[...do this ... or do that ...]." Following that new nickname, many of the husbands got matching tee shirts with versions of "Capt. Larry Sez" printed on them in empathy with one another. &;-)
We share (and adore) three daughters, one son, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Seeing that United was planning to abandon its pension plans over to the PBGC (most pilots, including Larry, have lost 80% since they were forced by the government to retire at the then-mandatory age of 60 after which the PBGC then penalized them 5 years for "early" retirement), Larry began a new career in 2003 as a realtor under "Yosemite Area Realtors" and has found this to be an exciting new venture. Larry has an office out at the airport (209-962-5501) and offers free transportation to folks flying in for the great local golf or a ride to beautiful downtown Groveland - subject to his availability, of course. And now Yosemite Area Realtors has expanded to include a number of other top producing agents in the area and has opened a new office in town (209-962-5900) as the main location.
Here is a photo of Pine Mountain Lake (showing our airport/airpark and the lake and golf course) taken by friend (and previous real estate client) Carole Wong (whose dad and uncle went to China with us a few years back), while starting out on one of Larry's famous flights over Yosemite's High Sierra Wilderness:
If you spot a house or a piece of property you like in the photo, visit the real estate website at www.YosemiteAreaRealtors.com or just E-mail him at LarryJobe1@gmail.com and I'm sure he'll be happy to show it to you (provided it's for sale, of course)! &;-)
How did we get involved with preserving and sharing the history of the Flying Tigers?
First, I need to clarify our usage of the label Flying Tigers in that we take the most liberal view of that label, as do China and our own US Military, which is to include not only the original Flying Tigers of the American Volunteer Group (AVG), but also all that followed once we were officially in WW II: the China Air Task Force (CATF) with the 23rd Fighter Group, etc.; the Chinese-American Composite Wing (CACW); the 10th and 14th Army Air Forces; and those who flew the Hump (the Himalayas) as part of the China-Burma-India (CBI) theater.
Both Larry and I were born shortly before the US entered WW II. Larry was a United Airlines pilot for nearly 32 years and discovered China when he started flying the B747-400 there in the mid-to-late 1990s. After his famous retirement flight in early 2001 (where he charted and flew the B747-400 with 202 of our closest family and friends for 2+ hours), we decided to take a tour of China to see more of this amazing emerging country than just Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. This was the very first time we had ever taken an official tour anywhere as opposed to exploring on our own.
The tour was so spectacular that we returned the following year in 2002 bringing 80 of our neighbors with us. We returned again in 2003 with a much smaller contingency of friends due to the SARS scare, and advised the tour operator (Asia Holiday Travel, Inc. of San Francisco) that it would be our last time since United was about to dump their pensions onto the government to emerge from bankruptcy and we were about to lose most of Larry's pension.
The tour operator then suggested that we continue to bring folks to China but design our own specialized version of his basic tour to include things of special interest to us and our friends (WW II history and aviation). By creating the tour officially through his operation, we could then help offset a small part of the massive pension loss. And we also pay to go along each year as unofficial escorts since our love for China has only deepened.
After managing a large flying school at Hanscom AFB in MA and two flying clubs at Dulles International Airport (where I got my Commercial Pilot Certificate), I also went to work for United Airlines, but in various the positions. Since one of my own many jobs at United had been once manning the Tour Desk at the San Francisco office, it was a quick path to get certified as a travel agent and create our AMERICAN AVIATORS VIP TOUR of CHINA for 2004. Without a single published ad, and only by flying around and posting flyers at many California airports, we ended up accompanying 165 folks on what became our first VIP tour (we only planned to do one but word-of-mouth made it into an annual event). This 1st tour was made extra special by the inclusion of 4 Flying Tigers from the 14th AAF (528th Fighter Squadron, the Dragonflys) and many of their family members. These WW II vets were greeted as heroes everywhere we went. We discovered that many of the Chinese people had never forgotten that Americans had come to help save their country in WW II. Word of mouth caused such a response that we ended up repeating this tour nearly every year since. And thus began our annual VIP tour of China escorting aviators and non-pilots alike along with more Flying Tigers and their families to discover what we had discovered in both the old and new China.
By 2006, when my husband was standing with Gen. James T. Whitehead (ret.) on the rock that Chennault had stood upon outside his Command & Operations Cave at the old YangTong Airfield to watch the overhead air battles, Larry saw construction of a divided highway with industrial buildings appearing along the old runway and remarked to the General that he was lucky to be there that year to view the scene the way it had been in WW II as it was about to change forever. Gen. Whitehead then remarked that something needed to be done right away to secure continued access to Chennault's Command Cave. Larry met with the Mayor of Guilin (Kweilin in WW II) before the VIP banquet that evening and asked for his help in preserving this historic spot for the future. And that began a whole new path.
Before we had even returned from our annual China tour, expert historians from Beijing had flown to visit the airfield and cave site and architects had been consulted. A DVD was awaiting our return home with a proposal to not only preserve the cave but create a park and museum at that site to commemorate the history of the Flying Tigers. The Chinese would design, fund, and build everything and we would only be asked to raise the funds to restore the interior of the cave to its appearance during its WW II usage, along with an approach road to the area from the highway.
Larry Jobe and Gen. JT Whitehead, along with other key persons, proceeded to form the non-profit FLYING TIGERS HISTORICAL ORGANIZATION (FTHO) for the purposes of raising the funds to restore the interior of the HQ cave to WW II appearance and build the road. They have conducted many events at the San Francisco Chinese Consulate and one big event at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC, among many other events. Everyone connected with the FTHO is a volunteer and out-of-pocket to cover expenses so that all donations go entirely towards our quest.
The official ground-breaking ceremonies for the new Flying Tigers Guilin Heritage Park & Museum occurred in March 2009 on our annual tour. Finally, the Grand Opening occurred during our March 2015 tour and was a huge event in China attended by Vice Premier Liu Yandong as well as many US and Chinese dignitaries.
Now, thanks to a most generous donation of $175,000 by Florence Fang of the Florence Fang Family Foundation, the FTHO purchased a restored C-47 located near Sydney, Australia. Larry and the whole crew finished a long saga (over 3 months due to two engine failures en route, etc.) flying it nearly 7000 miles from Australia to China by way of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar (Burma). From Mandalay, it crossed the Himalayas for one last "Hump" flight to Kunming and then on to Guilin where it has ended up on display at the new Flying Tigers Guilin Heritage Park & Museum. More can be found at www.FlyingTheHump.com and https://www.GoFundMe.com/25ccc2zw. Our March 2017 American Aviators VIP Tour of China will feature a special ceremony to dedicate the C-47.
Larry and I are not getting any younger and had to cancel the 2014 and 2016 tours due to temporary medical and mobility issues. We have a back-up plan to ensure that the 2017 tour will occur with or without us but fully expect to be on this one since we are making the 2017 tour the last one we will be personally accompanying. We have planned to make it extra special as a result. We will continue to have a very small markup for our part in creating this tour since our main goal will remain to introduce Americans to the old and new China and our shared WW II history.
Another enterprise Larry has been doing for years is the professional dispersal of cremated remains over mountains, desert and sea and utilizing a specially designed and configured chute for this purpose that avoids improper or incomplete dispersal or damage to the aircraft surfaces.The most commonly requested sites are over the High Sierras on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe and also 12 miles out to sea in the Pacific Ocean off the San Francisco coastline. One of his special signatures is to also spread wildflower seeds indigenous to the area and elevation when dispersing in the High Sierras as a way of offering perpetual life as a remembrance. He has provided this service to both individuals and to a number of mortuaries. Larry now has as his partner Allen Cordle ("Beyond Horizons"), his good friend of 45-plus years and who is also a retired airline pilot (American Airlines). Allen is now located near Portland, OR and is now the primary provider of this service. The web site is: http://finalflightsusa.com/
On the lighter side, since Larry's retirement we have gotten involved in old cars - like horseless carriages, Model T's, Franklin air-cooled autos, the Brass and the Nickel age, Model A's, and the Classic Cars - and have enjoyed the special camaraderie of the folks in all the various car clubs. Many of them have joined us on our China tours over the past many years. We were also surprised to find that many old car owners are or were also pilots at some point in their lives. Certainly, a strong shared interest in history was the seed that caused many of these folks to enjoy the tour of China. Update: our 7 antique cars have all been sold now due to the loss of most of Larry's UAL pension in late 2003. We enjoyed them all and now others are their new caretakers.
Contents and photos for this website are "admitted to" by Nina Jobe, with some photos provided by some of our previous tour participants: Stan Crawford, Dick & Dottie Davis and Jim Lagorio.
This page last updated February 6, 2017
CLICK on the links BELOW to view additional pages of information:
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Newsy Bits and Pieces
Call Us Toll Free at:
E-mail us: ChinaVIPTour@aol.com