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In 1980 flew former President George H.W. Bush around Iowa in his unsuccessful run for the Republican Presidential nomination.: John Holmes

John Holmes
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John A. Holmes

The first plane ride for John Holmes was in a 46 Aeronca Champ in the 60’s with his Uncle Clint Swan. There are warm memories of the excitement surrounding flights in the Champ with Uncle Clinton.  They would fly over the farms of all their relatives, waving, always creating an excited stir.  There, during those early years, the seeds of the love of flying were sown and began to grow.  Whenever given the opportunity, John jumped at the chance to climb in the back seat of the Champ with Uncle Clinton!

John graduated from high school in Ottumwa in 1978.  The fall arrived and he struggled with his plan of attending William Penn College in Oskaloosa.  John remembers attending church one Sunday evening and really was asking for guidance on which direction to proceed.  That evening, he came away with the inner assurance that I should go into aviation.  He would learn to fly!

He immediately started flying lessons, and soon got a job as line boy at Ottumwa Flying Service.  Over the next four years he slowly moved from line boy to flight instructor, then charter pilot.  During this time his Uncle Clinton loaned John his Cherokee 180, which provided the opportunity to continue flight training and acquire instrument ratings.  Uncle Clint’s kindness and generosity in loaning his beautify airplane has left a deep sense of appreciation.  No person has been more instrumental in John’s flying career than Clinton Swan. 

As a charter pilot flying the Cessna 310, John took many a journey from Ottumwa to Kansas City, flying for then Milwaukee Railroad.  Enroute to MKC he flew over the same farms in which Uncle Clinton had charmed him 12-15 years earlier. 

From Ottumwa Flying Service, John was hired by a family out of Fairfield to fly and manage their airplanes.  The family owned an Archer, Great Lakes, Cessna 421, and a Citation jet.

John next had the opportunity to fly the Citation throughout North America, South American and even flew to the Philippines via Anchorage, Midway Is, and Wake Is.  All this great flying qualified him to be hired by American Airlines in 1985.

John lists his memorable moments in Iowa:

·        First flight with Uncle Clinton in the Champ

·        Towed banners out of Oskaloosa

·        Flew Cargo via Ottumwa, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Chicago

·        Flew Air Ambulance out of Ottumwa

·        Flew many deceased Iowans back to return to their final resting place in Iowa

·        Flew Conservation Corp around tracking wildlife movements throughout Iowa

·        In 1980, flew former President George H. W. Bush around Iowa in his unsuccessful run for the Republican Presidential nomination (chosen by Ronald Reagan to be VP).

·        Served on Indian Hills Aviation Advisory Board

John adds the following as his memorable moments at American Airlines:

·        In 2001, flew Former President George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and staff from Austin, TX to Washington DC after the intense recount process in Florida.

·        He was Manager of Flight Operations Safety when the attacks of 9/11 struck.  He was among a handful of Mangers with the COO, and CEO to operate the airline from what AA calls the WAR Room.  Grounding the 2,000 flights a day and then slowly bringing the airline operations alive.

With great honor we recognize John Holmes, formerly of Centerville, Iowa and now living in Grapevine, Texas as a Hero of Industry and Technology. 

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