Brig. Gen. Norman C. Gaddis, USAF (Ret.)

Brig. Gen. Norman C. Gaddis, USAF (Ret.)

Enshrined November 12, 2011

Norm Gaddis was born in Jefferson County, TN in 1923. He entered the Army Air Corps in 1942, was commissioned in 1944. He flew the P-40 Warhawk and P-51 Mustang in WWII. He was released from service in 1945, then recalled in 1949. Gaddis served three-years with the 86th Fighter Wing in Neubiberg, Germany flying the P-47 Thunderbolt and the F-84 Thunderjet. In 1952, he was transferred to the 31stFighter Wing at Turner AFB flying F-84 Thunderjets. It was during this time he flew the first ever fighter jet crossing of the Pacific Ocean. In 1954, he was assigned to the 81st Fighter Wing, RAF in Bentwaters, England, and subsequently reassigned to U.S.A.FE. Headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany in 1955. In 1957, Captain Gaddis was assigned to the 450th fighter Wing at Foster AFB, Texas. A year later, he became a flight instructor in the F-100 Super Sabre at the USAF Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nevada. Major Gaddis entered the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB in 1960 and in 1961 became a staff officer in the Tactical Division, headquarters USAF. In 1965 as a Lt. Col. He attended the National War College followed by F-4 Phantom combat crew training in 1966. In 1966, Colonel Gaddis was assigned to the 12thTactical Fighter Wing at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base in Vietnam. During his 73rd combat mission on May 12, 1967, he was forced to bail out of his aircraft near Hanoi, was captured and became a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for 2,124 days. He was released on March 4, 1973. After a 90-day convalescence, Gaddis resumed service with the 82nd Flying Training Wing at Williams AFB in Arizona and became its Commander in 1974. Later that year, Brigadier General Gaddis served as Deputy Director for Operational Forces in Washington, D.C. Norm Gaddis’ military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and “V” device, the Air Medal with Five Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon. A Command Pilot, he has logged over 4,300 flying hours. He retired after 30 years of active military service in June 1976.

To learn more, visit: www.tnairmuseum.com

Mary (Dilda) Nolan

Mary (Dilda) Nolan

Enshrined November 12, 2011

Air race gold medalist, Mary (Dilda) Nolan, has earned celebrity status as the foremost female air-racer in the nation. She is also a prominent air show performer flying at EAA’s Air Venture in Oshkosh and Sun-N-Fun in Lakeland, among others. That’s in addition to a 10-year Air Force career and her full-time job as a pilot for FedEx. When Mary was in the first grade she knew she wanted a career in aviation. As a child she flew with her Father in his Cessna Cardinal around their ranch in New Mexico. After soloing at age 18 she earned her pilot’s license in just two-months. Enrolled in college at Oklahoma State University, she earned her wings and became a flight instructor and member of the flight team, the OSU Flying Aggies, where she earned an award as “Top Regional Pilot”. As a participant in a National Intercollegiate Flying Association competition she won “Top Woman Pilot”. Following college graduation, Mary Nolan joined the U.S. Air Force because she wanted to fly jets. After her initial training in T-37’s and supersonic T-38’s, at 24 years of age, she became an Aircraft Commander flying the C-9 “Nightingale”, the Air Force Medical Evacuation aircraft, and later traveled the world landing on every continent including Antarctica piloting the huge C-141 “Starlifter”. Mary left the Air Force in 1991 but continued as a civilian instructor on the C-141 simulator, then flew the McDonald-Douglas MD-80 for a scheduled charter company. When FedEx hired her in 1994, Mary began as a DC-10 simulator instructor and three years later became a FedEx “line pilot” in 1997. She has flown the Boeing 727, Douglas DC-10, MD-11 and is scheduled to upgrade to Captain on the Boeing 757. She also served in the Tennessee Air National Guard. Mary bought her first North American T-6 Texan renamed “Two of Hearts” in 1996 and ended up air racing at the world famous Reno Air Races where her record includes three Reno Gold Championships, two T-6 Gold wins and the Jet Classic championship flying an L-39 Albatross named “Heartless”.

To learn more, visit: www.tnairmuseum.com

Mack H. Rowe

Mack H. Rowe

(1919-1980) Enshrined November 12, 2011

Aviation was Mack Rowe’s passion from the age of five and it became his lifelong vocation. During 45 years of flying he, arguably, flew more types of aircraft than any other Tennessee pilot. Some, documented in log books and military records include: P-36, P-38, P-39, P-40, P-47, P-51, P-61, P-63, B-17, B-25, B-26, C-46, C-47, C-54, C-78, ME-109, Fieseler Stork, Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane, De Haviland Mosquito, along with numerous civilian aircraft from the Lockheed Lodstar to the Lockheed Constellation. In the early 60’s, before the age of corporate jets, Mack used his personal P-51D Mustang for business trips. Mack began flying at the age of fifteen at the former McConnell Field under the direction of Louis and Albert Gasser. Later, Mack and his younger brother Gene bought a Curtiss Robin and went barnstorming around the southeast. When WWII began Mack’s civilian flight experience earned him a direct commission as a First Lieutenant. His squadron was shipped overseas to fly in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. During one mission, flying a P-40, he was forced down in the desert during a sand storm and was rescued four-days later. A few days later he took a crew back, dug it out, patched it up and flew it back to base without a canopy. In 1946 Mack joined the 105th Air National Guard Fighter Squadron flying P-47’s at Nashville’s Berry Field under the command of Col. G.A. “Skeet’s” Gallagher. Later that year he joined Jesse Stallings and Henry Cannon to start Capitol Airways at Cumberland Field, now Nashville’s Metro Center. As Chief Pilot and ultimately CEO, Mack guided Capitol Airways from a grass field to an international air carrier with a fleet of DC-8’s flying to Europe, Asia and the Caribbean, employing over 3,800 people worldwide. At it’s headquarters and heavy maintenance base at Smyrna Airport, Capitol International Airways employed over 700 people. Along the way, Mack made many friends in the aviation community: Bob Hoover, Chuck Yeager, Jackie Cochran, Paul Tibbetts, Beevo Howard, Cornelia Fort, Betty Gorrell, Tennessee Hall of Fame member John Ellington, and many more not only in commercial aviation, but many private pilots all who shared his great love of aviation both past and future. Tennessee’s late Adjutant General Earl Pate, of the Tennessee Air National Guard said, “Mack Rowe probably had more influence on commercial aviation in Nashville than any single person.”

To learn more, visit: www.tnairmuseum.com

William A. Wilkerson, Jr.

William A. Wilkerson, Jr.

Enshrined November 12, 2011

Bill Wilkerson’s early interest in becoming a pilot was seeded by a book in his family’s home entitled “Library of Universal Knowledge”. The book contained an illustrated section about flying a plane. He and his younger brother often pretended to fly together, using those illustrations as a guide. In Junior High School, he did a career project on becoming a pilot and organized a neighborhood model aircraft flying club.

At age 16, Bill took his first flying lesson at Knoxville’s Powell Airport. The expense of flying lessons and a lack of family support for something so “dangerous” were early obstacles but he soloed November 27, 1964, soon after his 18th birthday, before he even had a driver’s license. Wilkerson enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1966 and earned his Private, Commercial, Instrument, Multi-engine and Flight Instructor ratings while stationed at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona and then became Chief Flight Instructor at the Davis-Monthan Aero Club. He completed his service in the USAF in 1970, and later returned to Knoxville, and became the Chief Flight Instructor at Powell Airport, where he first learned to fly. 

Bill’s dream job came in 1974 when he was hired by Piedmont Airlines. In 1980, he became only the second African-American to earn the rank of Captain with the airline. Piedmont merged with USAir in 1989. Captain Wilkerson flew the YS-11, Boeing 727, 737, 757, and 767. In 1996 he was promoted to Flight Manager of the Boeing 737-300/400 program, the largest fleet at USAir, with responsibility for over 155 aircraft and the training of more than 1,800 pilots. During the last two and one-half years of his airline career with USAirways, Captain Wilkerson flew the Airbus 330 to European destinations, retiring in November 2006 after a 32-year career as an airline pilot, his boyhood dream fulfilled. Bill Wilkerson continues to Share his love for flying and his many years of experience with General Aviation pilots and student pilots as an FAA Safety Counselor, lecturer and flight simulation advocate to improve flight proficiency and flight safety. In January 2011, he was honored as North Carolina’s Flight Instructor of the Year.

To learn more, visit: www.tnairmuseum.com