Jimmie L. “Jim” Hamilton

1993 Jim Hamilton’s military career includes service as an artillery officer, aviator and paratrooper in the U.S. Army. He was appointed to three four-year terms on the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission and was elected chairman twice. Hamilton served two terms as president of the South Carolina Aviation Trades Association. He was elected Governor and Key Man of the Columbia Hangar “Quiet Birdmen.” Hamilton organized and chaired Aviation Weekends for Charity. In 1974 he founded the Jamil Flying Fezzes, a charitable flying group that transports children to Shrine Hospitals, serving as its first Commander and continuing as a mercy flight pilot. The founder-owner of Midlands Aviation Corporation, he has served as the Columbia-Owens Downtown Airport Operator for more than 30 years. He holds a commercial pilot certificate with instrument, helicopter, single and multi engine land, and single engine sea, ratings and a multiengine and instrument flight instructor certificate. He has been a member of the SC Board for Mental Retardation and the Babcock Center Board, he received the Order of the Palmetto and the Shrine Bowl of The Carolinas Walt Disney awards. Jim Hamilton Blvd. in Columbia was named in his honor. In 1993, he was named the South Carolina Aviator of the Year. From Lowly Beginning, Columbia Company Has Taken To The Skies By RON WENZELL Staff Writer January 11, 1982 Midlands Aviation Corp. is a dream come true for its president, Jimmie L. (Jim) Hamilton. The aircraft sales and service business at Columbia’s Owens Field celebrated its 20th anniversary Dec. 10 (1981) From the time he left the military in 1958 to take a job as a flight instructor in Columbia “I dreamed of having my own business,” Hamilton said. His first civilian flying job was with Aircraft Sales and Service at Metropolitan Airport. In addition to flying lessons, “I pumped gas and did whatever else needed doing.” He was an Army pilot from 1949-58 flying spotter planes. He had joined the army right out of high school and served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division. He wanted to go to infantry officer candidate school, but was sent instead to artillery OCS at Fort Sill, Okla. for flight training. His last duty station was Fort Bragg, N.C. In running Midlands Aviation he has had a knack for doing the right things at the right time and place, Hamilton said. He started in a. one-room office in...
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John W. Hamilton

1992 A graduate of the Citadel, John Hamilton served as a lieutenant with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division in Columbia. Governor John C. West named him director of the state Aeronautics Commission in 1971, a position he held for nineteen years. As director, he was instrumental in obtaining more than $18 million in bonds for airport improvement projects. He helped establish state-owned airports into independent city/county authorities, and founded the South Carolina Annual Airports Conference. He secured funding for the headquarters of Civil Air Patrol Wing, and established the Commission’s fleet of seven aircraft. Hamilton also directed the building of the state Aeronautics headquarters and the Wilder Hanger Facility. He served as an officer for the National Association of State Aviation...
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Representative Robert Harrell

2010 Representative Robert “Bobby” Harrell, originally elected to the legislature in 1992, has a long track record as a representative for the people. Harrell was elected Speaker of the House in 2005 and at the time of his induction he had served six consecutive years in that position. Through the years, his love of aviation has grown, and he has supported the aviation industry in South Carolina. His contributions to the State Aeronautics Division, Aeronautics Commission, flight safety, airports, and aviation industry will make a lasting impact on aviation in South Carolina. His leadership and determination was key to reestablishing the Aeronautic Commission, putting jet fuel tax in the aviation trust fund, passing legislation to allow counties to reduce the aircraft property tax assessment and obtaining $500,000 in annual recurring funds for South Carolina airports. He also made available $5 million in a one time lump sum to match federal and local funds for eligible airport projects with the Aeronautics Commission having distribution approval authority. Harrell was instrumental in recruiting Boeing Aircraft to locate the Dreamliner production facility in South Carolina. Boeing will provide positive long-term benefits for the state’s economy and will enhance aviation’s economic impact on our state. Harrell was also successful in raising funds to provide air transportation for South Carolina National Guard soldiers of the 218th Brigade. This allowed them to come home during their leave before deploying to Afghanistan. When he became interested in aviation, he pursued and earned a commercial pilot’s license with instrument rating in record time. He pilots his Cirrus SR 22 regularly and is dedicated to flight safety, maintaining his personal pilot proficiency, and his personal minimums are higher than those set by the...
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Pat Hartness

2017 Thomas Patterson “Pat” Hartness   Thomas Patterson “Pat” Hartness was born in Greenville June 13, 1941. He became involved with aviation at the early age of seven, when he first flew control line aircraft and then free flight model aircraft. Aviation has deep roots in his family, with his mother and his father (Tom and Edna) flying with the Civil Air Patrol. His brother Robert Garland and his son Sean are also pilots.   Pat’s first full scale homebuilt was a Volksplane he built in 1971. His personal aircrafts include: The Volksplane, J-3 Cub, BT-13, Stearman, Spartan Executive, an Ultralight, P-51 Mustang and an AirCam.   In 1997, Pat purchased property in Woodruff SC and started sculpting Triple Tree Aerodrome. Triple Tree now accommodates thousands of flying enthusiasts each year, not only from South Carolina but nationally and internationally. Thousands of pilots and aircraft have been a part of the Triple Tree Flying experience. Close to 1000 aircraft and many thousands of “operations” are counted in a single year.  The “Joe Nail” remote control aircraft event is held here every year and is the world’s largest giant scale remote control event.   The Academy of Model Aeronautics presented Pat with the President’s Award for his leadership and named Triple Tree Aerodrome an Outstanding Flying Field.  Pat’s dream of an education center where both children and old timers can continue learning about aviation is finished, and a restoration center is in place where aircraft will live to Fly again. Without question, Pat’s goal has always been “to ignite and expand the passion for aviation,” and he lives by those words today....
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William W. “Bill” Hawkins

1995 As a small boy growing up in Camden and Greenwood, Bill Hawkins developed a deep love for airplanes and learned to identify the type of plane by the sound of its engine. In 1946, he joined the Army and was sent to Japan, returning home in December 1947. In 1952, he joined the Civil Air Patrol, and he began taking flying lessons at Camden Airport in 1958. He received his license in 40 hours and bought his first airplane in 1973. Hawkins served as president of the South Carolina Breakfast Club for 10 years and served as the organization’s historian. He became FBO-Manager of Camden Airport in 1976 and was appointed Airport Manager in 1990. Hawkins is a charter member of the South Carolina Aviation Association, serving on its board for four years. A long-time member and former president of EAA Chapter 3, he was an active member of the QBs. Since the mid-1970s, Hawkins coordinated the Camden Fall...
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Caroline Etheridge Hembel

1995 In 1939, Caroline Etheredge Hembel was one of three women accepted for the Civilian Pilot Training Program at the University of South Carolina. The only woman to complete the Program, she was the first woman in the 11 Southeastern states to solo and receive a pilot’s license. In 1940, she received her commercial pilot’s license, and she became an officer in the Ninety Nines. The South Carolina Aeronautics Commissions named Hembel “Miss South Carolina Aviation.” In 1941, she began training Navy V-5 aviation cadets. In 1942, she became a charter member of the Columbia Chapter of the National Aeronautic Association. In 1943, she was designated for membership in Women’s Auxiliary Service Pilots. She received a special pilot’s license and took part in several All Women Transcontinental Air Races. In 1962, Hembel was instrumental in bringing Hughes Helicopter Company’s dealership to Saluda. Hembel has been a pioneer as a female pilot, a pilot instructor and an officer in the Ninety Nines. She has made a tremendous difference in the history of aviation in South Carolina and was named South Carolina Aviator of the Year in 1995. Greenville NewsPaper Article: SALUDA Caroline Etheredge Hembel, a pioneer aviator, devoted wife, and beloved matriarch of her family, died Monday, Jan. 22, 2001, at her home in Saluda. Mrs. Hembel blazed the trail for women in aviation, helped her husband introduce frozen foods to Saluda County, supported him in bringing the helicopter industry to South Carolina, and was the heart and nerve center of her family. In 1995 the South Carolina Aviation Association inducted her intothe South Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame and named her the 1995 South Carolina Aviator of the Year for her contributions to aviation over her 55-year career. In 1939, she was one of three women accepted for the Civilian Pilot Training Program at the University of South Carolina, and the only woman to complete this Program. She became the first woman in the eleven Southeastern states to solo and receive her pilot’s license under the Program. She received her commercial pilot’s license in 1940. In 1941 she became an officer in the Ninety Nines, the international organization of women pilots (founded by Amelia Earhart). That same year she was chosen “Miss South Carolina Aviation” and became an ambassador for the world of aviation. In 1941 she completed an instructor’s course and began training Navy V-5 aviation cadets, a...
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Lester F. Hembel

1994 Inspired by Lindberg’s flight across the Atlantic, Lester Hembel began his aviation career in 1929. He established Hembel Brothers Flying Service and “barnstormed” his way through the early thirties. In 1940, he came to South Carolina and completed the Civilian Pilot Training Program. He was then employed as a program instructor. Hembel established and taught aviation courses at the University of South Carolina. Known as ”Mr. Helicopter,” Hembel was a pioneer introducing the new method of flight to South Carolina. Appointed as a pilot examiner in 1964, he issued more than 900 pilot certificates through 1993. In 1975, he was named FAA flight instructor of the year. An outstanding civil servant, he was awarded the Bronze Plaque of South...
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Ernest Henderson

1991 A native of Laurens County, Henderson became the first black from South Carolina to obtain a Commercial Pilot’s License, Aviation Ground Instructor rating, Flight Instructor rating and instrument rating. Instrumental in breaking the race barrier in aviation, he was a pilot and Flight Instructor during World War II. He became an Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Program Instructor at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He trained about 20 cadets a year who entered aerial combat in the all Black 99th Pursuit Squadron in the European Theatre World War II. He served as commissioner for Columbia Owens Downtown Airport. In 1991, he was named the South Carolina Aviator of the Year. Ernest Henderson, Sr. Flight Instructor and Educator “From plow to plane” is an appropriate way to describe Ernest Henderson’s life. “I was plowing in the cotton field when I first saw an airplane,” he recalls. “I was fascinated by that flying machine.” That encounter as a child on a small farm in Laurens County left an impression. Ten years later, he became a pilot and flight instructor. Born in Mountville in 1917, Ernest Henderson, Sr. was educated in Laurens County in a wooden schoolhouse without running water, a chalkboard or desks. The school was not an adequate facility, but that did not prevent Henderson from learning. Reflecting on his experience in the small wooden school, he says, “I was anxious to try to be the best in class.” He graduated with highest honors from Bell High School in Clinton and began undergraduate work at Hampton Institute in Virginia. There he was encouraged by the school’s president to go to Tuskegee Institute to take flying courses to qualify for the Army Air Corps. He entered Tuskegee determined to become a proficient pilot. He succeeded and joined the Army Air Corps Pilot/Flight Instructor Group. “We had the distinct privilege of flying with some people who became outstanding later on,” says Henderson. “We flew with the late General Daniel ‘Chappi’ James, Jr. , who became commander-in chief of the North American Air Defense Command, and with Lieutenant General Benjamin O. Daves. Jr., who was in command of the 99th Pursuit Squadron in Europe.” Henderson became assistant squadron commander and was one of the pioneers in making aviation a reality for African-Americans in this country. Recently, Henderson was inducted into the South Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame. Henderson later completed his bachelor of...
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Richard “Dick” L. Hitt

1999 Dick Hitt, a pilot, mechanic and owner of PA-20 is best known to thousands of South Carolina pilots as the “FAA’s Mr. Safety”. Dick has been the Safety Program Manager for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Columbia Flight Standards District Office (FSDO-13) since 1991. By weight of his personal leadership and example, his selfless use of off-hours and personal time to train pilots, his regional and national professional deportment of immense individual charm and friendliness and knowledge, Dick Hitt is surely one of the best among us in South Carolina General Aviation. In 1999, he was named South Carolina Aviator of the...
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Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings

2003 Performance Is Better Than Promise! That’s the creed by which South Carolina’s own Sen. Ernest F. “Fritz” Hollings has modeled his entire life of public service. Hollings has always been a champion for both South Carolina and his nation. A native of Charleston, Hollings graduated from the Citadel Military College in 1942 and immediately received a commission in the U.S. Army. He served as an officer in the North African and European Campaigns during World War II, receiving the Bronze Star and seven campaign ribbons. Elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives at the age of 26, Hollings was selected by his peers as Speaker Pro Tempore during his second term, a post to which he was re-elected in 1953. Two years later, Hollings became Lieutenant Governor and in 1958, he was elected Governor. At 36, he became the youngest man in the 20th century to hold the position. He was elected to his seventh Senate term in 1998. As the ranking member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Sen. Hollings has used his seniority and vast support for aviation to secure millions of dollars in airport improvement aid. No airport in South Carolina has been untouched by Hollings’ generous efforts to develop and upgrade America’s airspace system. Using his seniority, Hollings has been a persuasive voice for airport development within the US Senate and the...
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Bevo Howard

1991 Bevo Howard founded Hawthorne School of Aviation in 1941 in Orangeburg, and he trained more than 6,000 pilots there. A World War II pilot, he was most famous for his aerobatic titles, including three aerobatic world championships and three international championships. The first pilot to perform an outside loop in a light plane, his most famous feat was an Inverted Ribbon Pickup where he would fly upside down and grab a ribbon. At age 22, he became the youngest airline pilot. He established Hawthorne Aviation, a fixed base operation in Charleston and a multi-million dollar business. The web has many pages devoted to this outstanding aviator, the best place to start is:http://www.bevhoward.com This site is maintained by Bevo’s son and is highly recommended. Other sites: Bob Russell relates the TRUE details of Bevo’s last flight. http://spence-air-base.com/bevo.html http://proairshow.com/ Proairshow.com Carolina Airshow History http://www.boshears.com/danhist/history.html http://www.avweb.com/other/eaa9943.html http://www.richland2.k12.sc.us/rce/transpor.htm...
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M. B. “Dusty” Huggins

1996 Dusty Huggins is one of America’s most colorful and successful fliers engaged in agricultural spraying and dusting. He started flying in the late 1920s. He started Huggins Airpark in Timmonsville in 1937, and in 1938, he became a charter member of the South Carolina Breakfast Club. He joined a new company known as Delta Airlines in 1941, participating in the company’s crop dusting venture. In 1946, Huggins started his own aerial application business in South Carolina, and he later pioneered aerial pest control in North Dakota. In 1955, he began working with SLED, looking for liquor stills as well as people, whether lost or fugitives from the law. Huggins located more than 10,000 stills while working with SLED, and saved at least 15 people. His dog Edgar was his constant companion for 16 years and flew more than a million air miles with him. Huggins is known to have given more free flying lessons than those for which he was paid. Although a master yarn spinner and a hard-core practical joker, he was all business during instruction. His job called for precision and, as one friend said, “Dusty is a big man who climbs into a small plane and flies with an exactness that is nothing short of spectacular.” Now THIS is a home airport Bill Walker 4/7/2005 Huggins Memorial Airpark at Timmonsville, S.C., is long on flying history and short on formality. For visitors, that means it takes about five minutes to go from introductions to a first-name basis with regulars at the airfield (58J), which lies directly beside S.C. Highway 76 on the outskirts of Timmonsville in the Pee Dee area near Florence. The personality of one man, M.B. “Dusty” Huggins II, dominates the history of the field. Huggins carved out a 30- by 1,400-foot strip on the site in 1931. Over the next 40 or so years, he taught more than 150 people to fly and helped popularize general aviation in South Carolina. Today, Huggins Memorial’s runway is 150 by 3,675 feet of well-manicured grass. The place is run by M.B. Huggins III, whom everyone calls Sonny. “There are currently 40 planes hangared here,” he says. “We have every kind of plane from Tri-Pacer to T-6 to Nanchang CJ-6. I think we’ve got the most planes of any grass strip in the state.” There is also a small airpark with a number of houses at...
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Benjamin Franklin Johnson

2005 In 1936, Benjamin Franklin Johnson purchased a disabled plane, restored it and then learned to fly. Southern Airways and Southern Airways School employed Johnson from 1942 to 1944. He also taught in the Clemson and University of Georgia CPT Programs. Johnson served as civilian instructor in the Army Primary Program at Camden during WWII and operated a flight program for air force cadets in Anderson. He flew more than 3,000 hours in a PT-22 Stearman during those years. Ultimately, he logged more than 10,000 hours total. In 1945, Johnson started Carolina Aero Service in Anderson, along with four partners. He operated the school until 1972. During his tenure, he received the nickname “Mr. Anderson Airport.” Through Carolina Aero he provided charter service, fuels, aircraft maintenance, flight instruction, hanger and storage services, aerial photography and mapping. Johnson served as a FAA Flight Examiner from 1951 to 1974. He was a flight instructor, ground instructor and held many aircraft engine mechanic ratings. He also wrote a weekly column for the Anderson Independent and Daily Mail called “Planes and Pilots” in the 1960’s. Johnson’s love of airplanes lead to his hobby of restoring old aircraft, including the 1929 Clemson ‘372,’ the Clemson Aero Club Plane that is last known to be housed in the South Carolina State Museum in...
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General Hansford T. Johnson

2005 General Johnson was born in 1936, in Aiken, S.C. He graduated from high school in 1953 and then attended Clemson College. He was the outstanding graduate in thermodynamics and aerodynamics from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1959, received a master’s degree in aeronautics from Stanford University In 1967 and a master’s degree in business from the University of Colorado in 1970. The general completed Squadron Officer School in 1965, Army Command and General Staff College in 1972, National War College in 1976, and the advanced management program at Dartmouth College in 1980. He earned his navigator wings while a cadet at the academy. Upon graduation, he attended flying training at Bartow Air Base, Fla., and then Laredo Air Force Base, Texas, receiving his pilot wings in July 1960. His first operational assignment was to the 317th Troop Carrier Wing, Evreux-Fauville Air Base, France, where he flew C-130 transports throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East and West Asia. He continued flying with the 317th when it transferred to Lockbourne Air Force Base, Ohio. After completing graduate school at Stanford University, General Johnson volunteered for duty In South Vietnam. In 1967 he flew as a forward air controller In support of the South Vietnamese army and U.S. Marine Corps forces in the northern province and the demilitarized zone. He directed tactical close air support strike missions against enemy supply, storage, vehicle and troop targets. During the latter half of the year, he operated out of Plelku Air Base, along the Ho Chi Minh trail, at night. During his tour, he flew 423 combat missions, 71 of which were over North Vietnam or the demilitarized zone. From May 1968 to July 1971 General Johnson was an instructor and assistant professor of aeronautics at the U.S. Air Force Academy. After graduating from Army Command and General Staff College, he served three years in the Plans Directorate, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. During his first year he was in charge of developing the tactical airlift force structure, then became leader of the team that developed and evaluated Air Force inputs to military strategy. The general graduated from National War College in June 1976 and then was assigned to the 93rd Bombardment Wing, Castle Air Force Base, Calif., as assistant deputy commander for operations. He also performed duties as assistant deputy commander for maintenance, deputy commander for operations and vice commander. He...
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Howell C. “Nick” Jones

1998 A native of Orangeburg, Howell C. “Nick” Jones served the military in the World War II Training Command as an Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet at Auburn University and in the navy as an Aviation Cadet. In 1964, Jones began construction of a Cassutt race plane, which he finished in less than 15 months. In 1955, he flew his first air race and for 11 years he was involved in Formula One racing. After the first “straight” Cassutt, he built two other modified versions of the same plane. A leader in the sport himself, he was the founder, promoter and organizer of the Oshkosh 500, an efficiency acclaimed as the “the race at which it’s impossible to cheat.” Jones’ strong interest in designing aircraft resulted in the creation of the White Lighting, a four-seat aircraft that set three world speed records. Jones continues his involvement with the design, manufacturing and sale of highly advanced, two-stroke engines for aircraft, boats, cars and industrial machinery. In 1998, he was named South Carolina Aviator of the...
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