H O M E
A B O U T U S
The Story of Sabatino “Sabbie” Ludovici
1910 - 2001
On October 23rd, 2004, Sabatino “Sabbie” Ludovici was inducted into the Rhode
Island Aviation Hall of Fame “in recognition of his trail-blazing efforts
as an aviation pioneer, and his outstanding contributions to the development
of general aviation.”
At the same time, Donald L. Carcieri, Governor
of the State of Rhode Island recognized Sabbie’s “lifelong contributions to
aviation spanning more than 60 years as a pilot, during which he amassed more
than 45,000 flying hours.”
Born in Aguila, Italy, Sabbie emigrated to America with his family when he
was three. At the age of 16 he ran across an ad for a flight school in Kansas
City, Missouri in a copy of Mechanic’s Illustrated magazine
and although he’d never seen an actual airplane close up, he decided
he would learn to fly. Inspired by the example of Charles Lindbergh’s
transatlantic flight, Sabbie was off to Missouri. He began his training in
a Standard J-1
biplane in an era when airplanes had no radios and compasses were rare. He
learned to navigate by pilotage, using a road atlas for a map, and by the following
year (1927) had earned his pilot’s
and one of the airplanes he flew.
In 1930, he married the love of his life: Louise Taylor, and started L&M
Flying Service in Woonsocket with Joel Meynard. They traveled to New York and
bought a rebuilt Waco-10 biplane with room for three passengers and an open
cockpit. The airplane had a new OX-5 engine which came out of a Curtiss Jenny,
the first airplane Lindbergh had owned.
early 30s, and for some time thereafter, job offers came to him from the
and others, but Sabbie — preferring his home life and dedicated to
general aviation — turned them all down. In 1932, he built his own
airport in Smithfield, RI, clearing the landing strip of stones and building
the hangar himself, and in 1935 Sabbie's Flying Service moved to Mendon,
MA where he founded Skylanes.
Sabbie’s Flying Service, Mendon Field, ca. 1935
By 1938, the service had three airplanes: a Piper Cub, a Taylorcraft, and
the original Waco, but the hurricane of ’38 did a lot of damage. The three
were repaired and two more Taylorcrafts were added to the fleet. Eventually,
Skylanes moved to North Central State airport.
a flight instructor for the
II, teaching aerobatics to groups of 5 students at a time in eight week
In 1969 at Skylanes, his was the first-ever FAA-approved
aerobatics instruction program in the United States and it remained so
for years. He was an FAA pilot examiner for 32 years and was a recipient
of the Rhode Island
Airman of the Year Award in 1988.
By the age of 78, Sabbie had flown more than 45,000 hours and had taught
thousands of people how to fly, including his wife Louise.
took their flight instruction from Sabbie, and
he is legendary
Sabatino “Sabbie” Ludovici, at North
Central State airport in 1988.