Wendall Gibson

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In 1939, as a 10-year-old boy, Wendall Gibson took his first airplane ride in a Piper J-2 cub on a grass strip known as Anderson Field with pilot Bob Houseworth after a South Carolina Breakfast club meeting in Walterboro.

After World War II, Gibson worked part-time as ramp attendant at Walterboro Airport and was compensated with free flight instruction instead of money. After learning from instructors Fripp Fishburne and Joe Smoak, he flew his first solo flight on August 5, 1946 at the age of 16.

In 1949, he and his closest friends joined the newly formed Walterboro Civil Air Patrol Squadron. He was designated as Squadron Check Pilot and spent many flight hours working with 18 other squadron pilots and flying many search and rescue missions in L-5 Stinsons, L-4 Pipers and L-16 Aeroncas.

Gibson moved to Barnwell in August of 1954. To continue pursuing his interest in aviation, he organized a flying club in Barnwell in 1955, and coordinated the purchase of an Aeronca 11AC that became one of only three locally based airplanes.

On November 7, 1964, he received his Commercial Pilot Certificate with assistance from Orangeburg Instructor Cecil Hadwin and FAA Designated Examiner Forrest Boshears of Augusta. Soon afterwards, he earned his instrument rating and Flight Instructor certification.

At that time, the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission had management jurisdiction over the Barnwell County Airport. He was designated as Airport Manager, and he organized a fixed base operation, offering fuel, flight instruction, maintenance, charter and aerial application services. After 10 years, he relinquished management duties at the airport but continued as a local flight instructor. He also flew a Cessna 310 and a Piper Aztec for the law firm of Brown, Jefferies and Boulware.

Wendall was a charter member of the Barnwell County Airport Commission, serving as its second Chairman in 1992. He was reappointed Airport Manager in 1995 and served until his retirement in 2005.

According to Wendall, his most satisfying accomplishment in aviation is never having heard that one of his students was seriously injured due to pilot error.