Harold “Hal” Weekley Selected for EAA Warbirds of America Hall of Fame
EAA Warbirds of America proudly announces its 2010 Hall of Fame inductee, Harold “Hal” Weekley of Mableton, Georgia. Weekley is well known for his book “Last of the B-17 Combat Drivers” and his years of outstanding service to EAA, piloting their B-17 Flying Fortress, named “Aluminum Overcast”.
Harold D. Weekley, the first child of Clara Johnson Weekley and Okey Weekley was born on July17, 1921 in Carrollton, Ohio. Harold saw his first flying machine in this mid-western town and has been hooked on aviation ever since, a career that has spanned almost six decades. He began flight training in 1936 and paid for this training by selling newspapers. Progress was very slow until World War II, during which time everything was accelerated, including Harold’s education. Prior to becoming an Aviation Cadet, Harold was a member of the 305th Combat Engineers, attached to the 80th Division, located near Tullahoma, Tennessee. In the fall of 1942 he was assigned to the U. S. Army Air Forces and completed his training in the Southeastern part of the U. S. During this period he flew the Stearman PT 17, the Vultee BT-13, BT-15 and the Curtiss AT-9 and Beech AT-10. On July 28, 1943, he graduated from flight school at Blytheville, Arkansas as an Army Air Forces pilot and, concurrently, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. At the completion of flight school, Harold was sent to Sebring, Florida for B-17 Transition Training.
On August 4, 1943, he married his high school sweetheart, Miss Wilma (Billie) J. Wigginton of Steubenville, Ohio. In November 1943, Harold reported to Dalhart Army Air Base for Combat Crew Training. Harold went to England on May 6, 1944, where he was assigned to the 601st Bomb Squadron of the 398th Bomb Group (Heavy) at Nuthampstead. He flew 20 combat missions, the first being to Berlin and the last to Le Manoir, France, which was the mission on which he was shot down by flak. After bailing out at 20,000 ft., Harold successfully evaded capture for six weeks hidden by the local French people until he escaped to friendly lines and was returned to the United States. After the war, Harold Weekley served as commanding officer and/or operations officer of various training, bomber and transport units. During the Korean conflict, he trained jet fighter pilots. During the Vietnam War, he trained jet instructor pilots and commanded development of the Fairchild C-119 gunship, called the Shadow, which was used in Vietnam. Additionally, he was an advisor to the Air Force Academy and served, also, as Supervisor of Pilot Instructor Schools and Standardization Board President.
After retirement from the Air Force, Harold worked with the Federal Aviation Administration for 14 years in the Atlanta, Georgia area. He was qualified in both General Aviation and Air Carrier functions. He was a Principal Operations Inspector responsible for the certification of new airlines, flight engineer schools and commercial operators and responsible for the surveillance of all air carrier operations within the southern region of the U. S. Additional duties were as accident investigator and incident and violation coordinator.
Weekley’s impressive aeronautical licenses include Airline Transport Pilot, Airplane Multi-engine Land with type ratings in DC-9, B-727, CV-240/340/440. Commercial Privileges Airplane Single-engine Land and Sea plus B-17 and B-25 type ratings, Flight and Instrument Instructor, Flight Engineer and Advanced Ground Instructor and has amassed over 20,000 hours in 97 different types of aircraft.
Since his retirement from the FAA, Weekley has acted as Captain on worldwide air carrier operations, worked for several years as an aviation consultant and volunteered as a pilot on the Experimental Aircraft Association’s restored B-17G Flying Fortress, Aluminum Overcast. He has been a member of the Free and Accepted Masons, Harmony Lodge #3 in Marianna, Florida for over fifty-two years. His son William has been a Mason for over forty years. Both father and son have been Shriners for over thirty-five years. Today, Harold Weekley enjoys his retirement with his wife, Billie.
Weekley will be recognized at the EAA Sport Aviation Hall of Fame Banquet & Ceremony on Friday, October 29, 2010 in the EAA Museum Eagle Hangar in Oshkosh, WI. A limited number of tickets for the event will be available for purchase at $50.00 per person. For more information, contact Jo Ann Bauer at 1-800-236-1025.
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