James N. Bates

1938 ~ 2018

Obit Photo Jim Bates Captain Jim Bates, age 80, passed away on July 5, 2018 after a courageous battle with cancer.  Jim was born in Brookings, S.D to Gipson and Elsie Bates. He attended high school in Dawson, MN and college at South Dakota State in Brookings, S.D. He met his wife Caryl of 58 years in Dawson and they were married March 19, 1960.

   In 1961 Jim joined the US Marine Corps and entered Officer Training at Quantico, VA. Once commissioned received orders for pre-flight training at Pensacola, FL. After earning his wings, Jim was assigned to USMC Squadron HMM-264 at MCAS New River, NC.

He served with this squadron for four and a half years flying the HU-34. After separating from active duty USMC, Jim was hired by Northwest Airlines. During his early years at NWA Jim continued flying HU-19 helicopters with the USMC Reserve Squadron HMM-766 at NAS Twin Cities.

   Jim’s NWA date of hire was Dec. 06, 1965. After initial training he ‘went to the line’ as a Boeing 727 second officer based in MSP. His NWA hire date was excellent and he quickly upgraded to 727 first officer (copilot). Thereafter he followed the standard progression for his era to 707 first officer followed by an initial upgrade to captain on the 727 in early 1970. His career history includes a log book full of flight entries in the 727, 707, 747 Classic, and the DC-10/40.

   In time Jim’s performance on check rides and his respected pilot skills led to his entry into the NWA flight training department (as it was once known). Jim instructed on all the airplanes he flew for the rest of his career. He was known for his knowledge of his aircraft systems, procedures, and the fine nuances of flying those aircraft. When he retired in 1998 he was still giving initial line experience training on the classic 747.

   The Bates family took up residence at Waseca, Minnesota and Jim became the airport manager at the Waseca Airport. When Jim wasn’t flying for the airline, his life revolved around general aviation by running a fixed base operation, serving in the Civil Air Patrol and helping young aspiring pilots earn their licenses.

    CAP Major Jim Bates was an enthusiastic supporter of the 1978 CAP summer cadet encampment at the Waseca Airport. On August 09 Jim was giving dual instruction in a Cessna 150 to Cadet Curt Hildebrandt, who was being prepared for his first solo flight. On final approach a half mile from the runway threshold , Jim was hit in his upper right chest by a 22 caliber bullet. He took over the aircraft to land quickly and then swerved off the runway onto the grass. The abrupt exit onto the grass alerted the ground crew. Jim was rushed to the Waseca hospital and then to Mankato’s St Joseph’s hospital where he received surgery for the wound; his immediate condition was listed as serious. A later investigation revealed that an eleven year old boy admitting firing two shots from his farm home, one of which hit the CAP airplane and Jim Bates.

   At the time of his death to cancer Jim and Caryl lived in Fountain Hills, Arizona. Jim is survived by his loving wife, Caryl; daughters, Jeanne Gronholm of Neenah, Wis. and Caren Wilkinson of Knoxville, Tenn.; four grandchildren, one great granddaughter, and  his brother Doug Bates of Dawson, Minn. He was preceded in death by his granddaughter Jamie Wilkinson and his parents.

(-Bill Day)