Capt. Jim Hanson
Date: November 09, 2011 08:13PM
James R. Hanson, "Jim", age 90 passed away November 7, 2011. He was born in International Falls, Minnesota, May 16, 1921 to Freeman and Clara Hanson. His family moved to Norfolk in 1937 and he graduated from Maury High School in 1939. He had a lifelong love of aviation, took his first flying lessons at 18, and earned his pilots license shortly thereafter. At the age of 19 he was hired by NASA as a model airplane builder and later worked as a draftsman at Langley.
After Pearl Harbor he entered the Army Air Force Flying Cadet Program. He earned his wings and became a fighter pilot stationed in Fowlemere, England where he completed 69 fighter missions in the P-51, earning 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 6 Air Medals. While in England he met Phyllis Whitworth, a student at Cambridge University, and they married in 1946. After the war he was a flight instructor and test pilot for the Air Force. He joined Piedmont Airlines in 1952 flying DC-3's until he was called up for Korea to fly reconnaissance missions in F-80's. Returning to Piedmont he continued flying until his retirement in May 1981 as a Captain on the Boeing 737, which he loved.
After retirement he continued building and test flying experimental airplanes, teaching friends and family to fly, and swapping stories with his flying friends at the Hampton Roads Airport. He was an avid artist, cartoonist, and wrote and self-published his memoirs in his book, From Kid to Captain.
He is preceded in death by his beloved wife of 64 years, Phyllis Hanson. He is survived by his son Gary Hanson and his wife, Kathy, his daughter Susan and husband Ralph, granddaughters Brooke, Jill, and Emma Lampert, Ashley Taylor and Claire Hanson. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to The Church of the Epiphany 1530 Lafayette Blvd, Norfolk, VA 23509.