Interview with Michael D. Piccola. Piccola was the author of “Intrepid’s Odyssey” and came up with the idea of the USS Intrepid Museum. Sadly, Mr. Piccola passed away and joined his beloved wife in heaven. He was a wonderful man and I so enjoyed working with him on his website for many years and trying to help him get the word out about his book. I didn’t want this interview to be lost, so I wanted to be sure to post it here. This interview was given in 2012.
Original Interview with Michael D. Piccola
Michael D. Piccola is the author of Intrepid’s Odyssey. I’ve known Mike for a couple of years now, so I asked if he’d be willing to do a quick interview for my readers. As you’ll be able to tell from his responses below, Mike is absolutely brilliant about military history and has a ton of knowledge about planes and ships.
Lori: Mike, when did you first get interested in ships and airplanes?
Mike: I started with aviation at the age of nine. Then, like most kids of my age, I started building model airplanes and ships. As the years went by, I built U-Control gas-engine flights, Gliders, and R/C models (airplanes & Boast).
Lori: Tell us how you came to know so much about airplanes…
Mike: When I became of age, I went to Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I received my Commercial Pilot’s License and Flight/Ground Instructors’ Ratings. I served in the Korean War and was honorably discharged. Then, I enrolled under the G.I. Bill and acquired my Single and Multi-Engine Land & Sea Ratings. A few years later, I got my Instrument Rating.
Lori: What did you do after school and the military?
Mike: I was then employed as an air traffic controller and later as a radar instructor with New York Air Route Traffic Control Center, Long Island.
Lori: Where did you get the idea for an aircraft carrier museum?
Mike: The center had a tenth anniversary celebration, where I had a room at the center and displayed my 200 models/dioramas. I built a diorama for a gentleman I met where he had an idea to build a STOL-Port (Short Takeoff and Landing Port) in NYC using two WWII decommissioned U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. This was when I got the idea of an aircraft carrier museum. After eight long hard years, it became a reality, which is located on the Hudson River in NYC, where it is visited by many people from around the world. I then started to write my book, Intrepid’s Odyssey, telling how I conceptualized the USS Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.
Lori: If you could share just one thing with your readers, what would it be?
Mike: I am happy that I saved one of America’s great historical US Navy aircraft carriers from the scrap heap, which helped win the war in the Pacific and WWII. I think the Intrepid is a tribute to the American people.
Lori: Why is it important to ensure that history doesn’t lose things like the Intrepid?
Mike: So generations from now, not only could people know how this WWII carrier helped make our nation the greatest in the world, but they could see first-hand part of what helped secure our freedom and liberties, helping other nations around the world to enjoy these same freedoms too.
Lori: How can someone protect their idea if they are working on something similar?
Mike: An idea cannot be copyrighted like a book, movie or other substantial entities. When an idea is considered by professionals (who you can trust) and they find your idea worthwhile… All I can say is to hire a trustworthy lawyer.
Lori: A little about you… what do you do in your spare time?
Mike: When I retired in 1999, with over 41-plus years with the FAA, I volunteered with two museums where I have built over 45 dioramas. One is the Cradle of Aviation Museum, and the other, American Air Power Museum, both on Long Island. I returned to college in 2010, named American Military University, in West Virginia, which is an on-line accredited college. I hope to attain my Master’s Degree in World War II History. I’ve started my sixth class this month, with six more classes to go which is about two more years. I finish with 36 credits. With this present class, I’ll have 18-credits.
Lori: Anything you’d like to add that we haven’t discussed?
Mike: All I’m praying for is that my story of being the original Founder of the USS Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum reaches many, many people around the world. Thank you for this interview.
I’d like to take a moment to thank Michael D. Piccola for sharing some of his knowledge with us. You can visit the USS Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum in New York City.
Final Note: I’m not sure if many copies of Mike’s book are still out there, but if you can get your hands on one, it is a must-read for any history buff.