www.apibestinclass.com Interview with Roger Rohrs of ApiBestinClass.com Retired Col. Tillman tell us about his family, what he enjoys doing and why Scottsdale AZ over any other place in the world.
Mark Tillman piloted President Bush in Air Force One on Sept. 11, 2001. Today he runs flight plans for Discount Tire of Scottsdale, Ariz.
“There are all kinds of plans to keep the president safe, emergency action plans, in the event of nuclear attack,” Tillman says. “Pretty much any major military attack, I knew exactly what to do with the president and where to take him to keep him safe.
“This was different. This was an attack from within. We had the president who didn’t want to follow our plans for a nuclear attack, which is hide him, keep him safe and allow continuity of government.”
As a young man, Tillman didn’t consider an Air Force career, much less aspire to become the president’s personal pilot. A native of South Florida, he thought of becoming a doctor and chose Tulane University for pre-med. He took a seat in class next to a student in an Air Force uniform. The Reserve Officer Training Cadet told Tillman that the program could help pay his tuition. Knowing his parents had only enough money for his first semester, Tillman signed up.
Tillman went on to pilot Air Force One for eight more years, flying Bush on 49 foreign trips to 75 countries and every state but Vermont, according to a tally compiled by CBS’ Mark Knoller. Tillman flew Bush home to Texas after President Obama’s 2009 inauguration and retired soon after.
He now directs flight operations for Discount Tire, a company based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
He recalls Bush fondly. The president took an interest in his family, he says, asking after son Patrick and daughters Erinn and Reilly.
“Total respect for him,” Tillman says. “To this day, I’d do anything in the world for him.”
The chief lesson of 9/11, Tillman says, is that the nation has to be prepared for the worst.
“We’ve got to be ready for it,” he says.