From left, Judith Loudermilk and James R. "Bob" Loudermilk Jr. (sitting). He recently received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award by the Federal Aviation Administration.
“I can see contrails in the sky now and wish I could still be a part of making them,” said James R. “Bob” Loudermilk Jr. “Learning to fly will do that to you.”
The 80-year-old, who is a retired US Army Lt. Col., was recently awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Loudermilk, who served in Vietnam, was given the accolade at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach.
“It was the crown of my aviation career,” said Loudermilk. He became one of 3,587 honored with this prestigious award.
The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award is the most prestigious award issued by the FAA. Named for the inventors of aviation, it is meant to recognize individuals who have exhibited professionalism, skill and aviation expertise for at least 50 years while piloting aircraft.
A resident of the Hilltop area, and originally from Huntington, West Virginia, Loudermilk flew in the military from April 15, 1958, to his retirement on April 30, 1978, as a fixed and rotary wing aviator.
He earned his pilot wings on June 5, 1959. He served as an observation/reconnaissance pilot; armed fixed and rotary wing while in the military.
“Upon joining the Army I volunteered for flight training because it paid more than airborne,” said Loudermilk. I soon became enthralled with the discipline and precision necessary for safe and efficient flight and pursued those aims throughout my military and civilian flight career.”
As a civilian, he was a flight simulator instructor for single- and twin-engine passenger planes, fixed wing air ambulance and jet transport.
Throughout his career, as of January 2, 2016, he logged a total of 14,560 flight hours with 50 accident-free years.
He also received his Master Aviator Wings, Distinguished Flying Cross, 34 combat air medals and two Vietnam tours.
Nowadays, Loudermilk and his wife, Judith, fly in space-available military aircraft to Europe for a one- or two-week vacation once or twice a year.
“But that is like flying as baggage and saying you fly,” he said. ”I have and will miss the anticipation I experienced before each flight. I looked at every one as a learning experience and prepared for and flew the flight in the manner that I had learned and trained.”
Original article can be found here: http://pilotonline.com