Edgar A. Kartic
1934 ~ 2020
Captain Ed Kartic, age 85, died of pancreatic cancer on August 16, 2020. He was born October 07, 1934 at Brooklyn Village, Ohio to parents Clifford and Julia Kartic. His father had arrived in the United States as a 11-year-old immigrant. Ed’s parents lived on a small farm near the Cleveland Hopkins Airport. His father worked for SOHIO (Standard Oil of Ohio) that funded many of the legendary Cleveland air races. With his father’s connections, the family received special passes to visit the air race flight line and meet air race pilots including Cook Cleland, Tony Levere, Bill Odem and Roscoe Turner, to name a few. Ed recalled NWA pilots Chuck Doyle and Harvey Christianson participating in the races.
There is no doubt that living near an airfield sparked Ed’s interest in aviation as early as age five leading Ed to take lessons and solo in a Piper J-3 Cub on skis. He earned his pilot’s license before his driver’s license.
Read more: Edgar 'Ed' Kartic
Kenneth Brian Kelm
1940 ~ 2020
Captain Kenneth Brian Kelm, age 80, died from heart failure on July 30, 2020. Ken was born in Urbana, Illinois, on January 9, 1940 to Arnold Waldemar Kelm & Nellie Gaudin (Prince) Kelm. He grew up as an only child, having lost a younger brother Denny soon after his birth. He and his parents lived in Ohio until he was 10 and then moved to Madison, WI where Ken lived for the remainder of his school-age years.
After two years of college Ken enlisted in the Air Force to enter as an Aviation Cadet pilot with the famous class 61-D. After preflight he was transferred to Bainbridge AB for Primary Flight Training, but for unknown reasons did not complete Primary Training. Ken completed his active duty obligation while pursuing civilian flight training.
Ken married Sondra Knee in 1961 and during their early marriage the couple gave birth to three children. Early on Ken had a keen interest in Christian missionary work as well as aviation. In the first half of the 1960s Ken acquired his FAA pilot ratings as well as a FAA Mechanic’s A&P license. After acquiring some pilot experience, Ken was hired by NWA on April 11, 1966. Like many of his airline contemporaries of his era, Ken began his NWA career as a second officer on the 707 series, quickly upgrading to copilot and eventually captain on the Boeing 727. During his NWA career Ken flew the Boeing 727, 707s, the 757, the Douglas DC-10, the classic Boeing 747, completing his 34 year career flying the 747/400. He retired in January of 2000.
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Clarence E. Hitchcock
1938 ~ 2020
Captain Clarence Eugene Hitchcock, age 81, died on May 25, 2020.. For Gene Hitchcock of Laurens, Iowa it all started with a kiddy-corner cut across the state of Iowa, by-passing Iowa State University at Ames, to reach Iowa City and enroll in the Air Force ROTC at the University of Iowa. Following graduation, and with a new Air Force commission, Gene journeyed to Reese Air Force base just outside of Lubbock, Texas to commence pilot training in class 64-C. It was love at first sight for Gene as they were the first class to start in the beautiful T-38 trainer. Gene also fell in love with a Texas Tech student, Suzanne Montague of Beaumont, Texas. After getting his wings, Gene and Suzanne married and headed to Fairchild AFB in Spokane where he would be flying the B-52. It could be said Gene fell in love with every airplane he flew. During those military days Gene deployed to Anderson AFB in Guam and flew into Vietnam with Operation Arc Light.
While in Spokane Gene, and Suzanne’s two children, Kathryn and Harold “Hal” were born. Nearing the end of his military commitment, Gene started looking at the hiring airlines as he found a home with the big planes. Northwest was the first to invite him in for an interview and give him a pass. He liked what he saw.....more Boeing aircraft! They quickly moved to the Twin Cities and joined up in November 06, 1967.
Read more: Clarence 'Gene' Hitchcock
Walter ‘Wally’ Piszczek
1936 ~ 2020
After enduring a 3-year take-off delay and an extended taxi to the runway threshold - Captain Walter J. Piszczek was issued his final departure instructions and cleared for takeoff on his eternal flight westbound. Walter departed peacefully from his family home at "Bethania Mineral Springs" in Osceola, WI. He was age 84.
Wally settled into Retirement on his rural St. Croix River Farm after a thirty-year career with Northwest Airlines leaving the left seat of the 747-400 for the last time on January 14th, 1996.
Wally's professional accomplishments throughout his life are legendary. From his exploits as a Naval Aviator, Aeronautical Engineer with NASA and Astronaut Candidate, Gemini 7 & 8, Apollo 1 Launch Preparation Engineer, William Mitchell College of Law Degree, Member of the Minnesota State Bar, Senior Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Osceola Village Board Trustee and a valued Member of the Osceola Airport committee.
On the farm - Walt was a skilled machinist, welder, and woodworker – Wally's driven work habits were unmatched in his desire to create and build systems that were meaningful to him – and to his hope – others. He could be found building boats, airplanes and developing his wind power project even welding artistic sculpture in his Barn/shop while listening to Twins games or classical music. Captain Walter was a man of extraordinary personal and professional accomplishments that were only exemplified by how he conducted his life – with hard work, dignity, courage, and humility. Wally the Dad and Walter the Uncle are forever surrounded by the legacy of his extraordinary family - settled all over the world from Osceola to Florida, Great Britain, Ireland, and South Africa. He will be sorely missed, thought of fondly and forever admired in every circle he ever entered.
"The Pennsylvania coal mine was reality for me, I just had to work harder" – WJP - RIP.
(- Nicholas J. Piszczek)
Thomas H. Adams Jr.
1936 ~ 2020
Captain Tom Adams, age 83, died from Corona-19 virus on Saturday, May 16 at a hospital in College Station, Texas. Due to other looming health issues Tom was not able to fight the virus for long.
Tom was born in Joplin, Missouri to Harry and Treva Melanne Adams. The first born of two, Tom had a younger sister Donna Dobbins. Those of us who knew Tom categorized him as an exceptional aviator. Perhaps this should come as no surprise as Tom’s father was a WWII P-47 instructor and Korean War F-86 Wing Maintenance Commander.
The family eventually moved to the Seattle area where Tom attended Cleveland High School. He was known as an average to strong student who participated in the school Drama Club. While in high school student Tom began flight instruction under the tutelage of his instructor father. Graduating from high school Tom matriculated onto Central Washington College of Education at Ellensburg, WA. To finance his studies Tom flew contract crop dusting in a 450 hp Stearman.
After three years at Central WA College of Education, Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps as a MARCAD (Marine Corps Aviation Cadet). He completed preflight and primary at NAS Pensacola followed by Advanced flight training at NAS Beeville, TX. Tom completed his carrier qualification on the USS Antietam. During his training he flew the T-34, T-28, T2J, F9F-8, and the F-11F. After earning his wings, Tom was assigned to VMA-225 (USS Enterprise) flying the A4D. VMA-225 was the first Marine squadron to deploy aboard the USS Enterprise CVAN 65 and he was aboard the "Big E" during the 1962 Cuban Crisis. Tom knew the meaning of being ‘on a war footing.’
Read more: Tom Adams
1940 ~ 2020
Captain Sigwulf Hermann, age 80, died May 25, 2020 in Seattle, three days after suffering a massive stroke.
Sig may have had one of the most unique early backgrounds of any NWA pilot. He was born March 3, 1940 in a German Army hospital at Peenemünde, Germany to Rudolf and Ruthilt (Singer) Hermann. Sig was the second of four siblings.
Rudolf Hermann, Sig’s father, was the Director of the Supersonic Wind Tunnel Laboratory for the German Army Rocket Experimental Station in Peenemünde. Sig was three years old when on the night of 17/18 August 1943, RAF Air Marshall ‘Bomber Harris’ launched a 600 aircraft raid by three RAF Air Groups against Peenemunde. This was one of the RAF’s largest bombing raids in retaliation for V-1 & V-2 rocket raids. Family lore reports that Sig’s father quickly moved his family post haste to rural Bavaria.
By the end of WWII Sig’s father was the creator of a 7,000 mph wind tunnel at Kochel, Germany in the Bavarian Alps. As the occupying Russian forces nudged ever closer to Bavaria, Rudolf Hermann initiated contact with the US Army. Once the Army realized this man was the chief aerodynamicist for the V-2 rocket, the Army flew him to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio under the umbrella of Project Paperclip. There is no doubt that Wernher Von Braun had a role in bringing Sig’s father to Dayton. Soon thereafter Ruthilt Hermann (mother) and her two children boarded a U.S. Navy troop ship loaded with returning U.S. military personnel. At first the voyage across the Atlantic in a crowded troop ship must have been frightening, but the American G.I.s proved both kind and helpful. This was just one of many events that assured Rudolph Hermann the United States offered his family a unique opportunity for freedom for his family.
Read more: Sigwulff Hermann