Paul Rinaldo Redfern

2010 In 1923 at the age of 23, Paul Rinaldo Redfern established Columbia’s first commercial airport and aviation business. In 1927, Redfern became the first person to fly solo across the Caribbean Sea between North and South America. Unfortunately he has never been found or heard from since he was observed flying inland over Venezuela. Even though his life and career were relatively short, Redfern’s contributions to the state’s aviation industry and history were quite remarkable and have endured to the present. At age 12 he exhibited signs of being an aviation prodigy soon after the family moved to Columbia where his father joined Benedict College faculty. In 1916, as a sophomore at Columbia High School, he built and designed a full-sized airplane of his own design, with a style reminiscent of the popular Curtiss Jenny. The only thing the craft lacked was an engine. His industrial arts teacher recognized his promise by having the plane, about the size of a car, hoisted into the gymnasium rafters at the nearby University of South Carolina. The exhibit created quite a stir. His parents reluctantly approved when he said he wanted to delay high school graduation in lieu of getting some real life work experience. The Army Air Corps took young Redfern on as a production inspector at Standard Aircraft Company’s Elizabeth, New Jersey Plant. At the end of WWI, the plant closed and in February 1919, the 20-year old came home and finished requirements for his high school diploma at Columbia High School. While away from South Carolina, he also had begun barnstorming and aerial shows in a Curtiss Jenny JN4 that he had acquired. And, while he finished his work at Columbia High School, he built another air-worthy airplane. Soon after he finished high school in 1923, he established Columbia’s first commercial airport on the site of the current Dreher High School. According to the company letterhead, Redfern was President and Chief Pilot, and BC Schoen was business manager. Redfern Aviation Company offered commercial aerial photography, aerial advertising and passenger carrying. Redfern continued to be a barnstormer as well and later flew for the U.S....
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Sylvia Roth

1993 Sylvia Roth began flying in 1944, earning her private pilot’s license in 1950. She earned a commercial and flight instructor’s rating and started teaching flight training in 1951, giving countless hours of lessons to hundreds of students. As a designated FAA Pilot Examiner since 1958, she has personally administered 785 flight examinations ranging from Private Pilot to Airline Transport Pilot. In 1968, she became the first woman to be designated a FAA Airline Transport Pilot Examiner, having accumulated more than 20,000 flying hours and 24 years of aviation experience. In 1963, she taught flight instruction at H & H Aviation in Columbia, and she began Miller Aviation with longtime friend Frances Miller in...
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Robert “Bob” Russell

2003 For Bob Russell, flying has been many things: a dream, a pass time, a service to his country, a performance and a true love. Russell was bitten by the flying bug when he was eight years old. As a teenager in Columbia, he flew gasoline models, dreaming of the day he would fly real planes. He began flying when he was a sophomore at Clemson University. He organized and served as the first president of the Clemson Aero Club when he soloed in a Piper Cub and accumulated his first 400 flight hours. In 1952, he graduated from Clemson with a degree in Industrial Education and his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. Immediately after graduation, Russell entered the military flight training and received his jet pilot wings in July 1953. During his Air Force service, he attended all weather fighter school at Moody Air Force Base and served in Labrador during the Korean War. After his discharge, he joined the South Carolina Air National Guard, serving overseas in Spain during an International crisis. He flew F-94s, F-80s, F-86s, F-104s and F102s, which contributed substantially to his total of more than 8,000 flight hours. Russell has flown three airplanes in air shows: a modified DeHavilland “Chipmunk” DHC-1B-2S3, A Marchetti SF 260 Waco “Meteor” and the Extra 300S he currently flies. Russell has served in numerous leadership roles for charitable organizations and professional societies. He is listed in “Who’s Who in America,” “Who’s Who in American Aviation” and “Personalities of the South.” In 2003, he was named South Carolina Aviator of the Year. From the Proairshow, LLC website written by airshow narrator, Hugh Oldham: Bob Russell, of Columbia SC, has always driven himself to be the best. From his time at Clemson University. where he learned to fly and started the Clemson Aero Club, to his career in the USAF and the SC National Guard (where he flew the F-80, F-89, F-94, F-86, F-102 and the F-104) Russell always risen to the top of his profession. Bob built his first airplane, a model at age eight. He purchase his first airplane in 1970, a Waco Meteor (Marchetti SF-260), and he wanted to fly airshows. At age 12, Russell had seen Bevo Howard fly at an airshow over Owens Field in Columbia SC, it was natural for Bob to seek advise from the greatest airshow pilot...
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Captain Edward T. H. Shaffer

2002 “…with charisma, humor, energy and an unfailing passion for aviation, he has become one of aviation’s great good will ambassadors throughout the world.” “He has spent more years in aviation than most people live.” Edward T.H. “Captain Ed” earned his instrument rating and joined United Airlines flying the legendary Boeing 247 and Douglas DC-3. He joined Pan Am in 1942 and served with distinction as captain on Central and South American routes. Shaffer flew the inaugural Boeing 727 flight from Berlin to Frankfurt in 1965, breaking the speed record for flight between the two cities. During his 43-year-airline career, Shaffer lived in 35 homes in more than 20 cities, while logging more than 30,000 flying hours. He served as a committee vice-chairman of the Airline Pilot’s Association for more than 10 years. Although retired, Shaffer remains active in a variety of aviation activities around the Lowcountry Regional Airport in Walterboro. At the age of 83, he continues to provide flight instruction and set long distance marathon records, while maintaining his involvement with various aviation activities. In 2002, he was named South Carolina Aviator of the...
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John Nelson Shelton

2000 John Shelton lived, ate and breathed aviation. He read every thing he could get his hands on about aviation. He built model airplanes and rockets to power them. He hung out at the local airport doing chores for rides and dreaming about the day he would fly. After graduation from high school and getting his private pilot’s license, he joined the Army Flying Corps. He became a flight engineer and logged thousands of hours of flight time in B-29s, C-130s, C-124s and C-141s. Along with many other aviation related tasks and responsibilities, Shelton operated a 135 approved charter service with single and multi-engine planes. At one time there were more than 75 actively enrolled students, making Summerville Aviation’s Flight School one of the biggest in South Carolina. Shelton spent many hours in community support. He taught A&P classes at Trident Technical College where he also served as an advisor. He was a member of the Dorchester County Aeronautical Board, the VFW, American legion and Noon Lion’s club. As Shelton said once if anything could be done legally in an aircraft he would do it. Shelton gave service, pleasure and education to many people. He advanced the aviation cause in South Carolina. Shelton’s influences in aviation in South Carolina will not soon be...
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Robert L. “Bob” Sleigher

2008 Robert L. “Bob” Sleigher has spent more than 25 years in aviation, serving in a variety of roles including flight instructor, director of flight departments, check pilot, charter pilot, freight pilot and chief corporate pilot. Regardless of the role, he constantly promoted his love of aviation in South Carolina. Scraping together $5 to take an introductory flight, Sleigher began his flying career in 1967. He received his private, commercial, flight instructor and multi engine licenses only 10 months after his first lesson. Sleigher is also rated to fly DC# and the Lear, Diamond and Citation jets. In 1970, Sleigher earned a degree in marketing from Ft. Lauderdale University. He worked as an accountant before making a career in aviation. “Flying is much more fun and challenging than pushing figures around,” he said. Sleigher has worked at Eagle Aviation as a Conquest airplane salesman, then charter manager of 17 airplanes and 21 planes. He was chief pilot with Sunshine-Jr. Stores, Inc. and manager of Sunshine Executive Charter. While he continued to serve as a flight instructor, he also worked as chief pilot for other companies. Sleigher has inspired a love of aviation in others by serving as a mentor during ratings processes and other personal aviation goals. He is directly responsible for helping many zero time pilots become chief corporate pilots, instructors and airline...
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Elliot White Springs

1992 A native South Carolinian born in Lancaster, Elliott White Springs was educated at Culver Military Academy and the Princeton University. After graduation in 1917, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Signal Corps aviation section. By age 22, he was squadron commander with rank of top sergeant and, by the end of the war, he was the fifth ranked U.S. WWI Flying Ace. He received the Distinguished Service Cross and the British Distinguished Flying Cross. Springs is credited with 16 confirmed combat victories, nine during the Allied advance on the Cambrai Sector. After the war, he authored several books including The Diary of an Unknown Aviator, a WWI classic. Also known for his mastery of the family textile mill, Springs Industries, he built the company into a powerful corporation. Elliott White Springs was a man of so many talents that it would be difficult to choose any one of his accomplishments as his most outstanding. At his death, he was chairman of Springs Cotton Mills, a company that he took over in 1931 when America was in the depths of the Great Depression, and 10 years later had made it one of the textile industry’s major success stories. But first there was Springs the aviator, one of the finest, bravest, and most daring pilots produced in World War I. He was the fifth-ranking American ace of the war, with 11 kills to his credit and many more that were not officially confirmed. At the end of the war, in 1918 and a year after he graduated from Princeton, he was 22 years old, a squadron commander, a captain, and holder of the British Flying Cross and the American Distinguished Service Cross. He returned to military service during World War II and left with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Then there was Springs the writer, a Roaring Twenties author of nine books and scores of short stories, many published in the leading magazines of his day. He earned a quarter of a million dollars with his writing, and his Warbirds: the Diary of an Unknown Aviator is considered the most important writing about World War I aviation ever produced. Springs the textile executive was equally impressive. At 35 years old, he inherited from his father the task of running Springs Cotton Mills, which consisted of five comparatively obsolete plants in Lancaster, Chester, and York counties. Everyone who knew Elliott Springs...
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Jimmie Doyle Stewart

2006 Born in 1946, Jimmie Doyle Stewart grew up in Greenwood, where he began washing airplanes at the local airport at the age of 12. He had obtained his private pilot and commercial ratings by the time he was 18 , and he used his new ratings to fly various corporate aircraft for Abney Mills, Greenwood Mills and others in the area to help pay his way through college. Jimmie served in the Air Force during Vietnam and later worked with the FAA as an air traffic controller in Asheville and then at the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. He held almost every aircraft rating the FAA issues, including glider and instructor pilot. Doyle’s greatest contributions to aviation in South Carolina focused on two areas. The first involves his work as a flight instructor, where he taught many people to fly from Greenwood, Laurens and Greenville. The other centers on his efforts as a volunteer pilot for the Commemorative Air Force and the Collings Foundation, for whom he has flown B-17s, B-29s, B-25s and B-24s and set up tours of these aircrafts. Thanks to Doyle’s efforts, many South Carolinians have been able to have an up close and personal look at these historic war birds. Helping the public understand aviation and how important it is in their lives was at the core of Jimmie’s devotion to flying. He was instrumental in the success of the first two Wings Weekends at the Greenville Downtown Airport, and his knowledge and contacts brought together many groups to provide the public with an outstanding aviation experience. With the assistance of his wife Tracey, Jimmie worked tirelessly to plan and coordinate many bomber tours until his death in March 2006. “I remember going to Lancaster once with Jimmie and seeing the B-17 and B-24,” said Charles Flowers. “It was amazing to see and hear the men who had been crew members on these planes during the Second World War tell the wives and families stories. It made history come alive once again and provided a greater depth of understanding for the families and friends of these brave aviators.” “Jimmie was not looking for any personal acknowledgement for his actions or recognition for his work,” said Flowers. “His only desire was to bring the wonder of flight to as many people as possible so they would realize how important aviation is to their...
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Thomas S. Summers

1999 Thomas S. Summers was born on October 27, 1903. Although he did not pursue a career in aviation, he contributed immeasurably to general aviation, especially pleasure and weekend flying throughout South Carolina. In 1938, he founded the South Carolina Aviation Association, now known as the South Carolina Breakfast Club, as a source of enjoyment for himself and others. Some 66 years later, the organization is still thriving. Summers’ total hours and certificates held fades in importance when compared to what he has given to general aviation. To this day, the South Carolina Breakfast Club remains as it began: there are no dues, no member list and one standing rule—once you attend, you are a life member. Summers has been honored by the Orangeburg Pilots’ Association for his contribution to the aviation...
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Robert L. Sumwalt

2009 Robert L. Sumwalt, a South Carolina native, began a career of aviation advocacy when he was a freshman at the University of South Carolina organizing and managing the first USC Flying Club. Sumwalt later served as the first Chairman of the Richland County Airport Commission. As a commissioner, he served on the committee that reoriented the runway at Hamilton Owens Airport to make the airport safer. Sumwalt was Manager of Aviation for eight years for the SCANA Corporation, a Fortune 500 energy-based company. For 24 years, Sumwalt was an airline pilot with Piedmont Airlines and then US Airways. He received extensive experience as an airline captain, airline check airman, instructor pilot and air safety representative. From 1991 to 1999, Sumwalt conducted aviation safety research as a consultant to NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System, studying various issues including flight crew performance and air carrier de-icing and anti-icing problems. He worked on special assignment to the US Airways Flight Safety Department from 1997 to 2004, where he was involved in the development of numerous airline safety programs. Sumwalt served as a member of the Air Line Pilots Association’s (ALPA) Accident Investigation Board from 2002 to 2004, and he chaired ALPA’s Human Factors and Training Group. He was a co-founder of that organization’s Critical Incident Response Program, which provides guidance to airline personnel involved in traumatic events such as accidents. He co-authored a book on aircraft accidents and has written extensively on aviation safety, having published more than 85 articles and papers in aviation trade publications. In 2003, Sumwalt joined the faculty of the University of Southern California’s Aviation Safety and Security Program, where he was the primary human factors instructor. In recognition of his contributions to the aviation industry, Mr. Sumwalt received the Flight Safety Foundation’s Laura Taber Barbour Award in 2003 and ALPA’s Air Safety Award in 2004. Sumwalt was sworn in as the 37th Member of the National Transportation Safety Board on August 2006. President Bush designated him as Vice Chairman of the Board for a two-year...
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John T. Talbert

1995 By the time he finished high school, John Talbert had become interested in both aviation and engineering. He was graduated from Military College of South Carolina (now the Citadel) in 1943 with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and was commissioned in the U.S. Army as a second Lieutenant. After the war, he joined the Civil Aeronautics Administration. He began to fly and soloed in 1947. Talbert worked as deputy director of the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission, establishing himself as one of the foremost airport engineers in the Southeast. In 1954, he went into private practice and later founded Talbert, Cox and Associates, which served as the ”engineer of record” for every airport in South Carolina. His motivation was his devotion to client satisfaction and to providing cutting edge airport...
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Representative Robert “Bob” Walker

2007 Representative Robert “Bob” Walker learned to fly while an ROTC Cadet at the University of South Carolina, under the watchful eyes of SCAA Hall of Famers Frances Miller and Sylvia Roth. In 1966, Walker was commissioned as an officer and pilot in the U.S. Air Force, a role for which he has received much recognition and several commendations. Elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1993, he has been a tireless proponent of general aviation in South Carolina. In 2003, Walker introduced House Bill 72, which later became law and allows counties to lower aircraft property tax from 10.5 to four percent. Walker also introduced House Bill 4537 in January 2004 and gained unanimous support for this bill in the House. In January 2005, the bill became law, reestablishing the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission. Walker’s dedication to aviation has truly had a lasting impact on South Carolina’s aviation...
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Joseph B. Wilder

1994 Joseph Wilder graduated from the University of Georgia in 1947. He served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1987 to present, where he is chairman of several committees. Wilder was a member of the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission from 1956-1986, serving as chairman from 1978-1984. He was selected chairman emeritus in 1993. Wilder was names Legislator of the Year in 1993, Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year in 1987 and the recipient of the National Peabody Award for community service in 1954. He was graduated from Army flight school in class of 44 and served in the 10th and 14th Air Force. He has owned several radio stations and was named to the Broadcasters Hall of...
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Ellie Givan “Buck” Shuler, Jr., Lt. General, USAF, Ret.

2012 General Shuler’s love of flying began during the years of WWII, when he was able to understand and follow the war effort, particularly the air war. It was the genesis of his desire to become a pilot. He grew up in Orangeburg and in Caracas, Venezuela where his dad was a partner in a Cessna 140. When the family returned from Venezuela in 1949, his interest in learning to fly increased and in 1954 he soloed at Jennings Field in Orangeburg under the instruction of Aviation Hall of Famer T.C. Hadwin. The general holds a single and multi-engine land rating along with an instrument rating as well as a N265 class rating. General Shuler attended The Citadel and majored in Civil Engineering. He was president of The Citadel Flying Club his senior year.  Following completion of the Air Force ROTC program, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant on 6 June 1959 as a distinguished graduate. He entered active duty on 18 July and began pilot training. First came preflight training at Lackland AFB, then Primary at Moore AB and then jet basic training at Laredo AFB all in Texas, receiving his wings on 2 September 1960. His first operational assignment was as a B-52 pilot and then aircraft commander at Carswell AFB and Dyess AFB respectively in Texas. During these tours he flew 22 nuclear airborne alert missions of 24 to 25 hours in duration in the B-52, six of which were flown during the 1962 Cuban Crisis. Following graduation from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a Masters degree in Engineering Management in June 1967, the general was assigned to check out as an aircraft commander in the F-4D Phantom II at George AFB, CA. A combat tour followed with the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base in Vietnam. He served as a flight leader flying 107 combat missions over North Vietnam, South Vietnam and Laos. He also flew 15 combat support missions in the F-4C along the Korean demilitarized zone as well as 57 training missions at Taegu AB, Korea during the Pueblo Crisis. Following the combat tour in 1969, General Shuler was assigned to Headquarters 2nd Air Force, Barksdale AFB, LA. as a civil engineering officer becoming the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Civil Engineering. Additionally, he served as an instructor in the T-39 aircraft during this assignment. In 1972 he...
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John “Henry” Luke Williamson

2005 John Henry “Luke” Williamson was born on April 18, 1906 and raised in Ninety Six. In 1927, he entered the US Army as an Air Cadet, finished in 1928, and became an instructor of cadets at Brooks Field, TX (later Brooks AFB). The 14th Air Force Historical Office Staff would later write: “He was one of the finest instructors ever stationed at Brooks Field.” Williamson went from reserve to active duty in 1930 as an instructor at the Air Corp Tactical School (ACTS) at Maxwell Field, Al. (later Maxwell AFB). While an Air Cadet and instructor, Williamson would fly his Boeing P-12 bi-plane to his family home in Ninety Six, perform acrobatics for the locals, and land next to his family home on an airstrip he had prepared for this purpose. These occasions were looked forward to and witnessed by Senator John Drummond as a young boy, along with other local residents. Thus, Williamson is attributed with having established the first airstrip in the Greenwood Ninety Six area. In 1932, the Army Air Corp. created its first acrobatic flying team. Williamson was named as one of the first three pilots. First named the “Dixie Trio,” they soon became dubbed “The Flying Trapeze.” The Flying Trapeze flew bi-wing Boeing P-12’s. Colonel Mao Pangchu of China saw Williamson in a show and offered him a lucrative position in China as advisor and instructor for the Chinese Air Force. Returning home in 1942, he joined Delta Airlines as Chief Check Pilot and kept that position until he died of a stroke in 1957 in...
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