Question of the Week: Do you have any pilots in your family?

+17 votes

Do you have any pilots in your family? 

When I was a kid, all I wanted to  be when I grew up was an astronaut or a pilot. laugh But too many ear and vision problems. Alas. 

My grandfather flew B-26s during WWII.  One of my favorite family history treasures actually is his pilot log from back then.  We discovered the first time he flew a B-26 was on his 21st birthday, the day after D-Day.

How about in your family?  

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in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.5m points)
edited by Eowyn Walker

My late father-in-law, HARRY D. JONES 1922-2012 Jones-10994During World War II, Harry served in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre as a combat pilot fly TBM AVENGER torpedo aircraft. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 Gold Star, Air Medal with two Gold Stars, Presidential Unit Citation, Asiatic-Pacific Theatre Award with two Battle Stars, and the World War II Victory Ribbon. His unit was VT17 "The fist of the fleet". I created a biographical web site of the same name...

My uncle Billy Ray Hervey, [Hervey-374], was a pilot during the Korean War.
I am a pilot and my brother is a pilot we took lessons at an air field in Charlotte, Michigan.
Yes, my father was a test pilot in the Canadian Air Force. He flew fighter jets and he also worked for NASA in the 60's. He enjoys reminiscing about "the old days" over a glass of wine.  

Your grandfather's log is a treasure, Eowyn! You're lucky to have it.
My brother, Lt. Richard K. Collier, was a Marine fighter pilot in the early 1960's. He received training in landing on an aircraft carrier, and was soon to be sent to Laos (before Viet Nam). He was killed on his last solo flight in the USA at Kingsville, TX, when the plane malfunctioned and the hatch on his ejector seat didn't open all the way.
My daughter is a pilot and at 26 has even given up her car (she is BMW obsessed as well and gave up a 2016 for an old 80's model) to afford her continued lessons to become an instructor. It seems many of my dna matches are pilots as well (although where everyone fits in is still a mystery) so I can only assume that it runs deep in the genes.
My son is a pilot.  When he was 5 years old we flew to Cape Town, a trip of about 2 hours. As we disembarked he told me he wanted to be a pilot. He was 13 years old, when he went on a demo flight and wanted to start straight away but he was too short to see out the window.  The instructor suggested he start when he is 16, that couldn't come soon enough. As soon as he turned 16 the nagging started. Before he turned 18 he had a private pilots licence.  He then got his instructors licence to build hours. All this while working from the age of 15 to pay for his flying.  (being a single parent, I could only help him get his PPL and buy him a second hand car to get around) At the age of 23 he sold his car, took a backpack and headed off to Botswana to do some bush flying and build hours. Two months later he finally got offered a job at Mack Air. After 4 years in Botswana and a lot of saving, he returned to do ratings, now on a twin engine aircraft and do some contract flying. In May this year he got an invitation from Cathay Pacific. He was flown to Hong Kong for the interview which out of three guys, he was the only one that passed (sim etc). In June he left to do two months training in Adelaide, re-do all his commercial subjects and training in 8 weeks. August he left for Hong Kong and has been doing a rating for a Boeing 777. He is now 29. And this he did all on his own working from age 15 and saving every cent. As I mother I am so proud of him and what he has achieved.To my awesome son Byron Mc Dowall, I wish you nothing but success and happiness.
My brother was a Fighter Pilot and my Father in law was a Fighter Pilot
My half brother was a pilot, he started with the RAF, came back to South Africa and flew various aircraft in the military. His one son was a helicopter pilot in the military. His daughter a helicopter pilot - just for fun... My uncle flew planed in WW2. My cousin was a helicopter pilot who was shot down by over Mocambique on the way to Mapai during the boarder wars of the 1970's. The military operation was named Uric.
My father was a pilot in the Navy.  He went to flight school in 1941 at NAS Pensacola and retired from the Navy in 1965.
My Dad graduated Adv. Flight Training in 1941 and thrilled to fly his first - a BT whatever that was.  He and served in Africa as a light bomber pilot. and eventually flew "every aircraft that was in the air at the time."  He served with the "Ferry Command" where the women who carried retrofitted planes back out into service (Now Honored Women Pilots) He was recalled for Korea and we lived in Japan for 3 years. Dad stayed in the USAF until 1968, his last duty negotiating defense contracts (I think) at Vandenburg AFB, CA during the first Minuteman Project.  He stopped flying at 60 saying "There are Old Pilots and Bold Pilots; but there are no Old, Bold Pilots. I am honored to be a military brat and honor all Veterans that serve our country!

To all interested - there is a website (several) honoring military personnel.  My dad was Air Force so his is USAF Together We Served. There are ones for the other services as well.  It is free. Many people have added their military relatives and photographs of their time in service.  My Dad carried a camera through his entire Africa-Italy time, I uploaded them.  TWS allows you to creat "Wingmen" and I have done a couple of them that served with him.

This  is equivalent to a military wikitree.  Please consider it for your own veterans!  or army, navy, etc.

Yes.  My brother was a pilot.  He actually was an accountant but when I asked him what he would do if he could he said he said he wanted to  be a pilot.  He had strabismus aka lazy eye so he could not get a job as a pilot but later he did get his private pilots license.
Great photo!  Thanks for sharing!

59 Answers

+19 votes
My 1st cousin 3x removed Frank Emmanuel Petersen Jr. (Petersen-1862). He was the first African-American Marine Corps aviator and the first African-American Marine Corps general.
by Lynnette Dovy G2G6 Mach 1 (15k points)
Wow! That's awesome!
A reason for pride. It really is cool!
That is indeed impressive.
Well deserved!
+15 votes
My grandmother, [[Stroesser-1|Rose Stroesser]], was very proud of her service as a WAVE during WWII. She learned how to fly planes, and even got to meet Charles Lindbergh!
by Amber Brosius G2G6 Mach 2 (20.9k points)
How excellent!
Really, wow!! I love that.
That's the best!
I saw a documentary about lady pilots in WWII. They were primarily ferry pilots and they would fly the planes from the factory right up to the front. To get back to the factory again, their orders gave them the highest priority possible. Some of the ladies told stories of bumping colonels and generals off of flights heading back to the US and the uncomfortable situations that ensued.

edit: typos and spelling errors
SJ, my dad was assigned to the "Ferry Command" in early '44 after returning from Africa. They were great ladies and finally got the recognition they deserved. Thanks for sharing.
+10 votes

My uncle, John Sumner Dodge enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps in California in 1939 as a pilot who already had over 4000 hours in the air. He was a member of the Military Air Transport System (MATS). His battles and campaigns were in China, India, and North Africa. He was separated from the service in 1945 at the rank of Colonel.  He flew the first 707 as a test pilot for Hughes Air West Airlines and was the first to fly into the San Jose, CA Airport.  He continued to fly for a commercial airline until his retirement.

by Robin Shaules G2G6 Pilot (686k points)
Amazing. What a legacy!
This is no ordinary man. What a great life.
You are right.  And after retirement he continued to have a life of service until his death.
Wow. Amazing.
+11 votes
My husband is a retired Air Force fighter pilot and flew 737s for SWA.
by Jeanie Roberts G2G6 Pilot (124k points)
Your husband isn't just a hero in your eyes, he is n my eyes too.
+10 votes

Uncle Bud started flying in 1935. His airfield (NY28), opened in 1936 was the second oldest in Onondaga County, New York. In 1950 there was a local newspaper article about how he would fly to work in the winter, taking off with skis and changing to wheels to come home.

I remember many plane rides with him, and also a few with one of his sons.

by Kay Sands G2G6 Pilot (282k points)
+10 votes
Yes, both my uncles were pilots. One flew fighter planes off an aircraft carrier in the Pacific, and his brother for the Civil Air Patrol.
+10 votes
My father got his private pilots licence when I was a child. He would have been flying a Cesna, I think. He also got his gliders pilots licence as well.  I remember going with him to the airport on a regular basis - maybe once or twice a month on the weekends.  This was in the 1970s. Once we arrived at the airport, Dad would then give me 50 cents which I would spend on sweets (Candy) and then I would hang around the pool table at the club office while he had his flying lesson. I would be eating my candy and I also learned to play pool - but I was never very good. I think I was still too small to handle a full sized table. All this would have happened for me between the ages of 8 and 10.

My father was forced to allow his licence to laps when we went over seas and he never followed up to get it renewed after we returned home to New Zealand.
by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (749k points)
What great memories.

We visited my aunt and uncle quite a bit in the 60s. Their house was a couple rooms built on the back of the hanger. He later built a separate hanger. Mom would visit her sister in the house and I would hang out in the hanger, where my uncle would let me have a soda pop after I filled the machine.
+9 votes
My Fisher was not a pilot but a navigator on a PBY in the Pacific Theatre during WWII. My brother has his original log book, and I have scanned the book.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (1.8m points)
+7 votes

My dad was a pilot in the USAF in the 1950s and 60s. Matter of fact, he was involved in a major crash of a C-124A Globemaster II in August, 1956. More about it in this link: C-124A, 51-156 out of Kelly AFB, Crashes

(He was 1st Lt. Thomas E. Schick  [Schick-13])

Fortunately for me, he survived the accident, though he did sustain burns on his hands and arms, and I was born the next year, in November, 1957. :-)

by Karen Macagno G2G6 (6.7k points)
+6 votes
My uncle Richard Julius Regenstein had his own plane and loved to fly. He was killed in a car accident at the age of 19 in 1935.

My 3rd cousin Joseph Jerome McConville Jr was a Navy pilot and was killed when his plane's engine failed over Naples, Italy 12 June 1945.
by Barbara Regenstein G2G Crew (380 points)
+11 votes

My wife Erin is a pilot with a major airline. She is part of the 5% of women pilots working in commercial aviation. She spends her free time supporting youth, especially girls, who are interested in an aviation career, and... flying. In 2009 she won the Air Race Classic, a transcontinental air race and donated the winning purse to Angel Flight. She also volunteers with Angel Flight. She recently created the curriculum for the Girl Scouts of WA so they could add an Aviation Badge as part of Aviation Day, hosted by Alaska Airlines at the Port of Seattle.

by Shanna Leeland G2G6 Mach 2 (20.2k points)
edited by Shanna Leeland
+9 votes

You really hit me where I live … LITERALLY!  My husband spent 26 years as an Air Force pilot, retiring only when they made him fly a desk.  He had two tours as a Wild Weasel pilot, in which he flew 196 combat missions over Vietnam.  What he calls his "I love me wall" is pretty fully covered with medals, plaques, and citations, that include a Silver Star.

After he retired from the Air Force, he worked for a defense contractor supporting military programs as a weapons systems engineer.  When he retired the second time, I retired also, we got married, and moved to a rural area in Alabama - big change from the metropolitan Washington DC area!

I have only started his profile - hoping to get him interested in working here by leaving it for him to finish.

by Gaile Connolly G2G6 Pilot (768k points)
edited by Gaile Connolly
Thanks for sharing. The Wild Weasels saved so many planes. For those unaware, Wild Weasels were ECM planes (electro magnetic countermeasures). They jammed enemy radars and communications and even attacked enemy radar installations. They saved countless lives of their fellow pilots..
I was looking for your post, Gaile, knowing it would be interesting! You are a pilot too aren't you?  Our father's had a bit in common didn't they - albeit a generation apart!  Thank you for sharing!
Barbara, I'm only a wannabe pilot.  I had a scare while taking flying lessons - passed out from an emergency maneuver, then discovered that 2Gs is where I start to go gray (it's result of having very low blood pressure).  As a result, I am afraid to fly alone so I can't meet the solo or cross country requirements to get certificate, but I have done a good deal of flying - anytime the pilot lets me do it - as long as someone qualified is sitting next to me.  My life has always been centered around aircraft, though - by degree, I'm an aerospace engineer, although toward the end of my career I functioned mostly as a systems engineer.  (psst - it's my husband, not my father, who you're comparing to your father, but I see you noted that they're a generation apart.)
You serve the country when you serve Aerospace too!  I'm sorry you had to stop flying but you apparently know my Dad's motto . . . not wise to be a bold pilot!  I'm glad to know you for your help here at Wiki, too!
+9 votes

Me! And hopefully some day my son. laugh

by Frank Santoro G2G6 Mach 1 (19.8k points)
+7 votes
My grandfather was supposed to have been a pilot instructor at Lackland AFB during WWII.
by Anne Guglik G2G4 (4.3k points)
+9 votes
My husband joined the Army at 18 years old and qualified for the Warrant Officer Helicopter Training. At 19 years old he was flying helicopters in Vietnam and was shot down on Christmas Eve 1965 but his entire crew was rescued the same evening. After a year he returned Stateside and instructed at the Primary Helicopter training at Fort Wolters, Texas. After the military, he flew for an oil company in the Gulf of Mexico and then began flying a desk for the rest of his aviation career until retiring in 2001.
by Virginia Fields G2G6 Pilot (333k points)
+8 votes
My grandfather was a pilot for the Army Air Corp during WWII flying a B-24 Liberator. He was pulled from his pilot job and tested to be a Navigator. He said he always loved both jobs but he joked he would be the one man they would never toss out of the plane. He was the one who could both; find the way back and fly the plane if need be. When you read the conditions that these crews flew in you just have to stop and say a silent prayer of thanks for their grit and fortitude. Leather/fur bomber jackets were a necessity not a fashion statement. Those guys were freezing up there in the clouds. Every mission could be their last. Thanks grandpa!
by Cheryl Aselin G2G5 (5.2k points)
+9 votes
My mama was a pilot - she learned to fly and flew planes - not sure exactly when - saw her once when I was little but did not get to go with her.  She may have flew deliveries for a short while

When she went to Japan I think she was maybe dating an air force pilot or something - I remember a picture of her sitting in a plane on the ground in a military looking place and overheard her talking once about the FBI had a file on her - might have been because of that picture
by Navarro Mariott G2G6 Pilot (142k points)
+9 votes

My grandmother's cousin was pilot of Spitfire during World War II. He served in the RAF 310 squadron

Pavel Tauber

Fantastic photo!
+9 votes

I have several RAF pilots, including some who lost their lives flying, particularly some bomber crew in WWII.

Captain Jim Collins ( appears as well. He was a commercial pilot in NZ. Unfortunately he died and became famous as a result of the Mount Erebus crash in Antarctica in 1979.

by Philip Gale G2G6 Mach 1 (15.8k points)
+9 votes

My grandfather (Major Joe Carnes) was in the Army Air Corps and trained as a B-17 Bomber pilot during WWII. He served with the 8th Air Force, 384th Bomb Group and assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (heavy) and stationed at RAF Grafton Underwood outside of Kettering, Northamptonshire, England.

Joe was credited with 30 combat missions; 2 as co-pilot, 19 as pilot, 9 as commander, and had an additional 2 missions that were aborted, all across 19 different aircraft - one of which was named the "TREMBLING GREMLIN".

B-17G (42-37982 SU*K) "TREMBLING GREMLIN". Source: The Quentin Bland Collection.

On 19-Sep-1944, Joe and his crew of the "TREMBLING GREMLIN" were flying lead squadron for the Railroad Marshalling Yard target in Hamm, Germany when they were struck by flak in the rear fuselage. After dropping the payload on their target, they left formation and the crew bailed out over Binche, Belgium.

TREMBLIN GREMLIN struck by flak, 19-Sep-1944, mission in Hamm, Germany. Image courtesy of Morgan Himmelstein, via Marc Poole, July 2014.

Joe was awarded numerous service medals, including 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 6 Air Medals with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, the American Victory Medal, the EAMS Campaign medal, the American Theater Campaign Medal and 4 Bronze Stars.

Joe passed away on 6 August 2017 at the age of 95. He was buried with full military honors at Houston National Cemetery.

by Steve Harris G2G6 Pilot (363k points)
My uncle was an SBD pilot at Midway.  His FaG entry:

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