James R. Maris’ remarkable aviation career began with an Army Air Corps enlistment in 1942. He trained as a pilot making his first overseas trip in a Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber and setting a record for non-stop flight from the U.S. to Dakar, Senegal. He later flew in the first wave of bombers to Normandy on D-Day. After completing 30 bombing missions with no losses, Jim volunteered to remain in Europe as a support pilot. He returned to the US after the war as a decorated pilot and was assigned as a test pilot.
He retired as a lieutenant colonel after 23 years in the Army Air Corps and U. S. Air Force. Jim joined Purdue University in 1955 to initiate the new maintenance technology and professional pilot technology programs. For 25 years he built the Purdue professional programs into preeminent Bachelor of Science degree programs. He obtained a full professorship in the Aviation Technology Department while being instrumental in the formation of the Purdue College of Technology, now known as Purdue Polytechnic.
In retirement, Jim Maris restored historic aircraft some of which are displayed at the U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. He remained with Purdue conducting tours of the Purdue University Airport and serving as a public speaker and educator.