NATCA Leaders and Former PATCO Members Attend, Speak at Off Broadway Play
Friday, August 09, 2013

On Tuesday, August 6, NATCA President Paul Rinaldi and NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert, along with retired NATCA members Bob and Valerie Butterworth, attended a new off-Broadway play, “I Forgive You, Ronald Reagan,” about the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) strike and its aftermath.

The play focuses on the life of Ray Deluso, an air traffic controller and PATCO member who was fired during the strike in 1981. The play concentrates on Deluso’s life 20 years after the strike, showing the consequences the strike had on his life and how he and his family dealt with those effects.

After the show Rinaldi, Gilbert and the Butterworths were invited on stage to take questions from the audience, as well as from cast and crewmembers. They gave the play high praise and were impressed by the cast and crewmembers’ intrigue and interest in the strike and the effects of its aftermath.


From left to right: Paul Rinaldi, Trish Gilbert, Valerie Butterworth and Bob Butterworth.

As former PATCO members, the Butterworths were skeptical of the play when they heard the title of it. But they attended the play with an open mind, and had an incredible experience.

Said the Butterworths: 

“How he (the character Ray Deluso) and his family dealt with the consequences and his relationship with a friend that did not go on strike were very accurately depicted. The actors were able to deliver a performance that captured the actual ongoing conflicts that were a result of a decision that in many cases had devastating consequences.  Most importantly it showed how most strikers have never regretted the decision to strike, but certainly regret the aftermath of that decision; ‘It was the right decision at the right time for the right reasons.’  

“In a few words, the play was well researched, well written and superbly acted. We highly recommend this account of a very difficult time for those that made what would become the most life-altering decision of their life and how they eventually found a way to pick up the pieces and resume their lives."

“I Forgive You, Ronald Reagan,” continues through Aug. 25 at the Beckett Theater, 410 West 42nd Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues, New York, N.Y. For tickets, call 800-432-7250 or visit telecharge.com. NATCA members can receive tickets at a $15 discount by using the code “TRIFYRR” when booking.


Paul and Trish answer questions from the audience after the play.