Aviation has lost another fine, fine man–FRANK COSTELLO

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Mentor to Many- man of great integrity and intelligence

Exceptional Advocate for Airlines 

As viewed by the general public, the most likely Hallmark of Aviation, is an airplane. The image of that complex machine is what first comes to mind to  those who fly, but those who work within this magical, marvelous industry (do you still experience a thrill at Vr?) conjure up a different image. When considering what we do, why we do it and why we love it, the focus centers on the people with whom we work. All, who follow the Wright Brothers’ path, recognize that we succeed at defeating gravity because of the integrity and intelligence of our peers.

My Aviation Exemplar was a fellow named Frank Costello, an aviation lawyer whose office was near my first firm and whose home was in the same exurban location. Though only three years older, he was my mentor in the practice before the Civil Aeronautics Board. I did, indeed, look up at him; for he was a man of height (if memory is correct, Frank rowed for Dartmouth where his length must have helped the Green). His intellect also was of the highest order; he knew the Act and all of its sections. On our commutes my friend used the congested roads to demystify the law.

Frank was a man of integrity. Yes, he was honest, but he spoke with such authority, his audience was compelled to concur. The Irishman was a colorful figure—never taking himself too seriously and with a quick wit. His humor was infectious and was fun to be around. Frank was an excellent conversationalist—unusually skilled at listening.

He frequently spoke with warmth about his wife and kids.

His clients needed a man like Frank. His advocacy skills advanced their cause and his likability frequently resulted in favorable results. No, that comment is not fair (my memory must have minimized my losses to his personality); he won because he knew the law and facts.

My friend died on August 6, 2019. He left many friends. Here are some of their reflections on Mr. Costello:


John Gaughan (former Administrator, U.S. Maritime Administration; Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Transportation; and Deputy Assistant to the President)

 “Frank was an easy going, loose jointed, gentle giant with a healthy balance of his life, the law, and his place in both.  I’ll miss him…”



Rachel Trinder. Many years a partner of Frank’s and a dear friend


Frank was a brilliant lawyer, a true aviation law guru, and always endlessly interested in learning and expanding his knowledge.  Having the opportunity to work with and learn from him was not only an extraordinary privilege, but an absolute joy; he was an incredible mentor.  He brought an unrivalled enthusiasm to literally everything he undertook, and he managed to make even the most challenging legal matters fascinating and rewarding.

Most importantly, he was such a special human being.  Larger than life in so many ways, he made everything so enjoyable – every single day working with Frank was so much fun.  He had a fabulous sense of humor and in particular possessed an extraordinary talent for always seeing things in their true perspective, and with wisdom and balance.

He also had a fabulous ability to be spontaneous, which is not always easy for lawyers working under constant pressure.  His infectious laughter often resonated throughout our offices, reminding us that although the issues we were working on were serious, life was not just about the law.  He knew what was truly important in the big picture sense, and how to lead a rich, multi-layered life.  He left us way too soon.


A couple of my favorite recollections:


Once when I was accompanying him and former Virginia Governor Linwood Holton (then a law firm partner and also a man with a wonderful sense of fun and humor) to a luncheon in New York, we arrived at La Guardia on a gorgeous weather day, and Frank insisted that we take the water shuttle to Manhattan rather than be stuck in road traffic.   What I remember most is the sparkle of the sunshine and the light spray of water, and Frank laughing and so enjoying it all, despite the fact that we likely would arrive at the lunch damp and untidy – to Frank what mattered was the fun.

Frank also was especially aware of his good fortune in being able to practice in a field he loved, and in the great experiences he enjoyed as a result.  Most importantly, he was so totally dedicated to his family – it was truly touching to witness, and no matter what the work demands were, he always made his family a top priority.


Mr. Costello’s firm bio







Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger, L.L.P.



Litigation, Aviation Regulation, Government Contracts

Dartmouth College (A.B., 1965)

Georgetown University Law Center (J.D. 1970)

Mr. Costello’s practice was a mix of administrative law, commercial law and litigation, with an emphasis on transportation-related industries and public contracts.

He served as Chairman of the Aviation Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of Public Utility, Communications and Transportation Law (and as a member of the Section’s Council).

He also frequently wrote and spoke on matters of interest to the aviation and maritime communities. Mr. Costello was admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and is a member of the Bars of the United States Supreme Court, the United States Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, Fourth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth and District of Columbia Circuits, the Claims Court and the Court of International Trade.

He was a member of the following professional associations:

the American Bar Association,

the Federal Bar Association (Transportation Law Section Steering Committee),

the Maritime Law Association (Proctor in Admiralty) and

the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

In addition, Mr. Costello served as President of the Jamaican-American Chamber of Commerce.

A great loss to aviation.










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