Avionics News January 2017 - 54
P A T R I C I A
of Cal Labs
iguel Correa grew up in Puerto Rico
with three siblings and was the son of a
retired Army noncommissioned officer
who served during both World War II
and the Korean War.
"Dad was a hard worker - and older than most of my
friends' dads," he said. "We had a stable home."
Correa's father lived in the United States during his
Army career. "He taught us about American life and
loving America," he added.
Since this was a time before cable TV and computers,
Correa and his siblings spent all their time outside,
"from sun up to sun down, with no worries about where
we were. We'd come home, covered in mud from head
to toe, bruised and banged up, and they'd feed us and
put us to bed." He noted that it was a safe environment
- a small town where everyone knew everyone else.
"My parents would tell us who the bad guys were,
which houses not to go to and which people not to talk
to, and that was it."
As a boy, Correa developed a love for technology. "My
dad was always tinkering with stuff - this was a time when
things got fixed, not thrown away - so he always had a lot
L U E B K E
of tools, and I was attracted to that," he explained. "I would
hang around him and watch and try to help."
It also was the time when Correa had his first
introduction to aviation. A class trip took the students
to San Juan International Airport when Pan Am first
was flying the 747. The students received a tour of the
aircraft and Correa said, "It was the most amazing thing
I'd ever seen; I couldn't believe that something that big
could actually fly in the air."
One other early influence impacted Correa's life,
and that was space travel and seeing astronauts. One
day, he saw an interview with an astronaut - he doesn't
remember which one - where the astronaut said he was
a mechanical engineer. Correa said he had no idea what
a mechanical engineer was, but he started telling people
that is what he was going to be when he grew up.
And that's exactly what happened. After three years in
college studying mechanical engineering, Correa could
no longer afford higher education and joined the Army
Reserves where he received his first formal training in
electronics. "I had completed three years of engineering
classes in college, and the Army courses were taught at
such a basic level that it all made sense to me," he said.