Charles F. Holleman
Charles Holleman began flying on his 16th birthday, December 29, 1946 and his amazing life in aviation was off and running.
Charlie joined the US Air Force in 1950 as a radar operator, serving 4 years during the Korean War. He satisfied his flying habit by owning and flying light, single engine aircraft. He attended the Auburn University School of Engineering where he earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering. While at Auburn, Charlie added his Commercial pilot and Instructor ratings. Always eager to fly, Charlie instructed Army and Air Force ROTC students, and worked as an engineer at the Navy’s Carrier Test Section. He also earned money crop-dusting Alabama farm fields part-time.
He soon found full-time work as a civil Academic Instructor of Aerodynamics at Spence Air Force Base, teaching aviation fundamentals to the first class of Air Force Academy pilots to arrive at the base. At Spence, Charlei flew various military aircraft, including the T-34, T-28, and T-37.
When the Air Force instructing contract ended, Charlie moved north to Purdue University. It was in West Lafayette that Charlie would make his most indelible mark on aviation in a career spanning 40-years.
Besides flight instructing and classroom duties at the university, Charlie flew Purdue Airlines’ DC-3s, along with the other aircraft operated by the school. If it flew at Purdue, from tail-dragger to gliders to jets, Charlie flew and taught it. He never let his engineering skills lag, conducting high altitude atmospheric sampling flights for the Advanced Research Center in Indianapolis.
Besides served as the Chairman of the Professional Pilot program for many years mentoring and inspiring hundreds of future pilots, Charlie taught aerodynamics, aviation physiology, meteorology, navigation, airline operations and aviation history. He also developed Purdue’s Flight Engineer course and was the primary author of the first Bachelor of Science Degree in the Professional Pilot Technology program while developing the Flight Test Engineering course.
Charlie also attended the National Test Pilot School in Mojave, California. That experience helped him to combine his engineering knowledge and test pilot skills to develop Purdue’s Flight Testing program. Moreover, his efforts let Purdue obtain three of its six airline simulators.
On September 25, 1999, in honor of Charlie’s outstanding service to aviation and the university, Purdue named a new simulator center the Holleman-Niswonger Simulator Center. And the “Charles F. Holleman Undergraduate Scholarship of Purdue University” was launched and funded by his former students.
Charlie retired from Purdue in the year 2000 and was honored with the title Professor Emeritus of Aviation Technology. His logbook holds 16,000 flight hours in over 165 different civilian and military aircraft types and includes 930 hours of aerobatic instruction during which he trained and inspired generations of military and professional pilots.
A gifted engineer, teacher, flight instructor, and aviator, Charles Holleman has spent his life pursuing excellence in each of these capacities, with professionalism and integrity that influenced and inspired hundreds of aspiring pilots and students.
For his service to our nation, his lifelong dedication to the science of flight, his academic excellence, and his remarkable influence on Purdue University, Indiana, and multiple generations of pilots, Charlie Holleman is inducted into the Indiana Aviation Hall of Fame.