Jim Davis – “Government Clerk” Left us today.
Jim Davis was one of the small group of aviation enthusiasts who founded the FASF in 2007. Jim remained an active Trustee and Officer until he retired in 2014.
Even after he retired, he remained active as our principal Aviation Historian, being an integral part of U.S. Aviation history, himself.
In a masterpiece of his typical humor and understatement, Jim’s business card read: “Retired Government Clerk.”
Actually, after his Korean War tour in the USAF, Jim worked as an air traffic controller in the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) – later to become the Federal Aviation¹ Administration (FAA).
In 1961 Jim established the FAA Administrator’s Command Post. In his leadership role, he was called upon to personally brief several U.S. Presidents on critical FAA issues, and it was Jim who developed Command and Control techniques still in use throughout the international aviation community to this day.
Except for a special assignment to help develop a modernized air traffic control system, he remained in Washington until his government retirement in 1990.
During his tenure with the FAA, Jim’s team, as an around-the-clock FAA presence, responded to some 20,000 annual contingencies; including major air disasters, aerial hijackings, and other emergencies that required immediate Federal response.
While still with the FAA, but even more active after his retirement from the agency, Jim personally videotaped many of aviation’s unsung pioneers. It was always difficult to imagine this extremely energetic and active chronicler of aviation history as being retired. It is now more than difficult to accept that he is no longer even among us.
[If you’d like to view the below photographs in full HD quality, simply click on them]
Jim flying his Cessna 172 over the cemetery in which he was buried on 11/27/20 – Photo by his friend, Ken Peppard
Aerial view by Ken Peppard of Alberene Cemetery, in which Jim was interred on Friday 11/2720
Since retirement as that “Government Clerk,” Jim continued to fly his own personal airplane, (seen above) often using it to commute between his home on the East Coast and his local Columbus New Mexico Private Airpark residence – only a few miles north of the Historic First Aero Squadron Airfield he did so much to help preserve – and protect – for posterity.
Today, his dear and long-time friend and colleague, Dave Clemmer, also an early FASF member, called to give us the sad news of Jim’s final departure.
L to R above: Ken Hyde and Jim Davis posing in front of the Wright Flyer, much like the actual aeroplane first flown by the U.S. Army’s fledgling Air Branch in 1909, only 6 years after the Wright Brother’s first successful heavier-than-air flight at Kitty Hawk, NC. The “Flyer” was built by Ken’s group: The Wright Experience: If you look closely, you will see a functional yellow-colored Curtiss JN4, built by Ken’s group. This photo was taken by Jim’s friend, Dave Clemmer.
Those of us here at the FASF who were privileged to both know and work with Jim will never forget his uplifting spirit and hearty sense of humor. His love of aviation and its history did more than one might imagine to help instigate the moves it took to get the FASF off and running as an educational and historical non-profit enterprise – – – one that, soon after its founding, was able to both secure and protect for prosperity the small New Mexico Airfield on which American Air Power began its illustrious climb to world-wide dominance – – – the same Airfield which also instigated the rebirth of American Civil Aviation, which had all but died after the Wright Brothers’ historic first flight in December of 1903.
Here is but one of Jim’s shorter videos. It’s about the first engine start of the Wright Brother’s 1st U.S. Military Flyer replica, built by some of Jim’s close friends. You can enjoy hearing Jim’s voice as he moderates the event on the video. In the brief video clip, Jim notes the short appearance of his good friend, Dave Clemmer, who just notified us of Jim’s passing.
L to R: Tom Strickland, Jim and Ken Peppard (who helped Dave Clemmer with this memorial post). All three of them are standing by the specially made “CENTENNIAL OF FLIGHT” cake, on the memorial of that Centennial occasion.
With no exaggeration, without Jim’s vital help and positive energy, we would most likely not have either the FASF – – – or this website – – – nor would your webmaster be writing of this loss of our cherished and dearest friend.
Above, L to R: Dick Roe and Jim aboard his airport “Harley Davidson” cart.
May God rest his soul, and may we never forget his dedicated public service. We will certainly not forget how honored we have been to have had Jim’s indefatigable help and unbridled enthusiasm to help us establish this historical public enterprise, with its many meaningful contributions to aviation history, and its manifold collection of colorful memories, many of which are of Jim himself.
Our prayers and deepest sympathy go out to Jim’s wife, Sharon, his wonderful family, and his many friends across the country and abroad.
God bless you, Jim.
Click right HERE for a newly released special Tribute to Jim by his close friend, and long-time FASF member, Dave Clemmer.
¹ Your webmaster had to change the full name of the FAA because he’d mistakenly first called it the Federal Aeronautics Administration! Calling me politely out on that error, was reader and old friend of Jim’s, Ken Peppard.