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Final flight for Jim Poel

30 January 2011

This weekend a family lost a good man, the aviation community lost an excellent pilot and the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum lost a brave person willing to pilot the Albany Flyer replica. This aircraft is the Glenn Curtiss design from 1910 and its flight is what set American aviation on its way.

Jim Poel was piloting this aircraft last June when a crash occurred. He was severely injured and his fight for recovery had been going well. Recovery in these cases is a fight, make no mistake about it, and his wife was kind to keep the aviation community informed of his progress, his setbacks and his  perseverance. He was a model patient by all accounts and was getting help from friends he knew as well as many he did not know.

Death by natural causes is what launched Jim Poel on his final flight.

I did not know him but I do know that the world benefited from his presence and is lesser now that he is gone. He had a successful career, from which he had retired, but it was through the test flights of the Albany Flyer that he became known to me. Here is a quote from an article I posted about him:

“Mr. Poel’s unfortunate crash reminds us that flying early aircraft involves a risk calculation since the designs were not advanced. These pilots are especially brave keeping history alive and getting first-hand experiences of what these aircraft were like to fly — and how aviation advanced.”

My condolences to the Poel family as well his friends.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Andy Shane permalink
    16 February 2011 17:43

    What profound sadness, at learning that a young and energetic captain who everyone loved has left us. Jim was the very best, a person who I thought of most often when in the left seat, remembering the way he thought, the way he treated people on his crew. Those of us with sense followed his example, when our own resources ran thin.

    He told me a story once, about the dog hiding the axle nut to his plane in her mouth. It amused him, and he didn’t ever hint at anger or frustration. Likewise, it was Jim who talked me into my first layover beer — remember, back then we weren’t allowed to drink at all — “Heck, Andy, it’s like a peace pipe…. You GOTTA have one!” Fond memories, a new guy out flying with the nicest captain around and his lovely wife.

    Thanks, my friend. You’ll always be on my shoulder, keeping me pointed in the right direction.

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