Captain Charles F. Burlingame

American Flight 77

A Classmate Like a Brother

To those who knew him, Capt. Charles F. Burlingame's dependability was legend. "He was kind of a go-to guy," said Perry Martini, a former classmate of Captain Burlingame, a Navy fighter pilot many affectionately remember by his nickname, Chic. "If you needed something done and done right," Mr. Martini said, "you would call on Chic."

As a pilot, Mr. Burlingame, 51, captain of American Airlines Flight 77, was a perfectionist, and his attention to safety earned him the respect and admiration of his colleagues. But Captain Burlingame's most valued quality, friends say, was his commitment to people. He personified the word classmate, Mr. Martini said, and as such, "he became family."

A graduate of the Naval Academy and the Navy's Top Gun fighter pilot school in Miramar, Calif., Mr. Burlingame accepted a position 12 years ago with American Airlines, where his wife, Shari, is a flight attendant.

He was to attend his 30-year college reunion, which he helped organize, the week after the attacks. Instead, former classmates from as far as Hong Kong gathered to honor their fallen brother, take in a Navy football game and reminisce.

"If Chic were around this weekend," Mr. Martini said, "he would be doing a lot of high-fives and hugs."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 12, 2001.

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