Monday, June 12, 2017

Clyde Shelton, noted aviator, NASA pioneer, dies


Clyde Harold Shelton passed away Saturday (June 10, 2017) after a brief illness comfortably in the arms of his beloved wife of 62 years, Mrs. Sara West Shelton.

Mr. Shelton was born in Taft on March 7, 1931. He worked hard early, operating a paper route at the age of 12 to support his mother and younger sister. He graduated from Central High School in 1949 and went to work at Kraft Foods until joining the United States Air Force in 1951 where he trained as a crew chief on the T-23 and F86 aircraft. During his service, Mr. Shelton developed an insatiable interest in aviation and vowed to one day buy his own aircraft.

Following his honorable discharge in 1955, Mr. Shelton finished his business degree at Indiana Tech. He soloed and began earning his pilot’s credentials at Wilkes Field in Fayetteville where he did buy that aircraft and began flight instructing both in Fayetteville and Huntsville, Ala., in 1963.

Mr. Shelton, still actively flying until Nov. 30, 2016, ended his aviation career having given well over 20,000 hours of flight instruction. He graduated over 1,000 students, and as an FAA flight examiner and beginning in 1987, he administered a United States’ record 10,379 checkride flights.

His personal logbook documents 38,971 actual flight hours with ratings as an airline transport pilot, single and multi-engine instrument instructor and Cessna Citation jet.

Mr. Shelton actually had two careers. A charter member of NASA, the Marshall Space Flight Center, he and his colleagues made aerospace history during our nation’s space race. He was there from the beginning working with Dr. Werner Von Braun on all the launch vehicles from the Redstone Rocket to the Saturn V Moon Rocket, finishing after 38 years with the Shuttle program in 1993.

The patriarch of three generations of pilots, Clyde instructed his wife, Sara, in 1966; his son, Scott, now a Boeing 747 captain for Delta Airlines on his 16th birthday; and his grandson, Nevada, currently a captain in the United States Army flying the Blackhawk helicopter on his 16th birthday, as well.

Clyde Shelton’s legacy is firmly established in those lives he touched. He was a genuine aviation professional. He was a man whose integrity, character, food nature and sincere interest in his students defined him as a man of competent humility.

For his extraordinary and endearing contributions to aviation, Mr. Shelton was elected into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame in 2016.

Clyde will be missed by all he touched during his long historical career, but most importantly by his wife, Sara; his sons, Steve and Scott (Gwen); grandchildren, Ashley Davis (Johnny), Chase (Ashley), Nevada, Whitney (Marcus), Richard (Chelsea) and Cooper.

Additionally, he will be missed by his great-grandchildren, Emma Grace, Anna Elizabeth, Abby, Walker, Ryder, Gunner, Ronin, and especially by his sister, Jodeen Steelman, and his brother-in-law, Ron (Dianah) West.

Mr. Shelton was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas Hamilton and Louella Shelton, and his brother, Thomas Owen Shelton.

Visitation with the family will be held Wednesday, June 14, at 1 p.m. until time of service at 4 p.m. at Higgins Funeral Home with Bro. John Hathcock officiating. There will also be a very special funeral send off at the Madison County Executive Airport in Meridianville, Ala. A reception will be held at 11 a.m., followed by services and a fly over honoring Mr. Shelton at 1 p.m.

Higgins Funeral Home is serving the family.

Original article can be found here: http://www.elkvalleytimes.com

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