Jerry "Motorman" Palladino (above with associate Mary Ann Hamilton) puts on a hell of a show, demonstrating the low-speed handling techniques used by motorcycle police officers. His "Ride Like a Pro" DVDs are best sellers and have taught many riders how to handle their bikes at low speed.
He does, however, need to work on his geography. This past weekend, while appearing at the Virginia State Harley Owners Group rally in Roanoke, Palladino repeatedly told audiences that his wife Donna, who usually appears with him in shows, was in Texas because "our son is graduating this weekend from the Air Force Academy."
The Air Force Academy is in Colorado, not Texas, and graduation for the Class of 2009, was May 27, not this past weekend. The Air Force’s Basic Military Training school (boot camp) is at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio but there is a big difference between going through the eight-and-a-half week BMT course as an enlisted man and four years at the Academy in Colorado Springs.
I tried to talk to Palladino after his show to ask him about moving the Air Force Academy from Colorado to Texas but there was a long line waiting to get his autograph and I had to sprint over to another part of the Sheraton Hotel parking lot help stage a ride.
Last year, a Motorcycle Safety Foundation trainer, who was one of the instructors at a Rider’s Edge Course that my wife took at Shenandoah Valley Harley-Davidson, claimed Palladino had never been a motorcycle officer. She was from Florida, where Palladino’s "Ride Like a Pro" operation is based.
I searched the ‘Net to see if any others had questioned Palladino’s credentials but found nothing to collaborate the MSF trainer’s claim so I dismissed it as possible jealously on her part. I did find a St. Petersburg Times story from 2004 that identied Palladino, at that time, as a deputy with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Department and his police motorcycle is visible in the photo that goes with the story so that proves he was a cop as claimed and did ride a police bike. A July 4, 2004, Tampa Tribune story about a new female motorcycle officer with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Department notes she filled the vacancy left by Palladino’s retirement from the department to he could devote more time to his "Ride Like a Pro" business.
A good showman sometime embellishes and I suspect Jerry was on a roll when he said his son was graduating from "The Air Force Academy" instead of basic training. Either way, his kid is serving his country.
I’m also glad to discover the MSF instructor was lying about Palladino’s credentials. Jerry’s videos and classes do help many become better riders and he has done a lot to promote motorcycle safety and awareness.
(Updated June 23, 2009)