Watch as retired teacher Mary Ann Goldade shares highlights from Perry Luchia's aviation career (9:11 minute video)
Watch Perry Luchia's wife, Sandra, accept his Wall of Fame award (6:39 minute video)
Perry Luchia’s career took him to soaring heights, but it was his Nobleford roots that nourished that journey.
The Noble Central School graduate, Class of 1976, is the first to be inducted into the Palliser Regional Schools Wall of Fame posthumously. Luchia, who passed away in March 2016 at the age of 57, is being recognized for his outstanding achievements in aviation.
His wife, Sandra, who accepted the honour on his behalf at Palliser’s opening day celebration, says his beginnings in southern Alberta served him well in his roles as a technical crewman with the Snowbird aerobatic team, an Air Force pilot, and finally a production test pilot for Bombardier Aerospace.
While aviation took him across North America and to various destinations in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, she says Perry always appreciated his upbringing on the family farm near Nobleford and the work ethic that instilled in him.
“In the Armed Forces they tell you, ‘you work 24-7 for us,’ ” says Sandra. “On a farm you might have other plans for the evening, but if conditions were right and the crop had to be sprayed or taken off, you were not doing what you were hoping to do. You were out in the field.”
She notes Perry successfully completed pilot training with only a Grade 12 education and what he had learned through working on the ground crew. A rare occurrence even at that time, he couldn’t have earned his Air Force wings today without first having a university degree.
“He obviously received a good, solid education (at Noble Central School),” says Sandra, adding colleagues through the years were amused to learn he attended the same school from Grades 1 to 12, and “just kind of kept moving down the hall.”
When it came to reminiscing about his school days, Perry spoke most passionately about his provincial-winning basketball team. He was wearing his team jacket when he and Sandra first met at dance at the base in Moose Jaw, and that well-worn trophy survived every move through the years.
Sports may have been one of the more valuable things Perry took away from Noble Central School, she says, in that the “team thing” was a prevalent theme throughout his time with the Air Force and his test pilot days.
Although she says Perry would have likely claimed others were more deserving of such recognition, Sandra expects her husband would have humbly accepted the Wall of Fame honour if it might inspire other small-town students to dream big.
Mary Ann Goldade, who provided introductory remarks and recollections for Perry’s tribute, says the importance of role models shouldn’t be downplayed. Perry’s Grade 4 teacher at Noble Central School notes a number of previous Wall of Fame inductees had their doctorates.
“I think that’s absolutely awesome but at the same time, I think you can do a doctorate in non-doctorate things,” says Goldade, whose husband Paul is a former Noble Central principal. “. . . Not to undermine any of the other Wall of Famers, but I think that’s so inspirational to see what you can do if you set your mind to it and develop the excitement and interest in something.”