Captain Jack goes to Washington | AspenTimes.com

Captain Jack goes to Washington

Dear Editor:Retired United Airlines Capt. Jack Holst attended the RUPA (Retired United Pilots Association) Convention in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 13-17.Captain Jack is 99 years young and is the last surviving charter member of the RUPA organization. In 1965, the senior vice president of United, Capt. Dick Petty, suggested to some of the retired pilots that they form a social organization. The organization has grown from the original 68 pilots to more than 3,300 members of flight operations (pilots, dispatchers, crew schedulers, and office personnel).They publish a monthly bulletin, which is mailed to its members in the members’ birth months, with interesting events and write-ins of their activities so that all may keep in touch after retirement.Jack Holst is a first-generation Norwegian who learned to fly in the Norwegian Air Force. He joined United Airlines in 1934, flying the early mail planes and progressing to passenger planes as United grew from a fledgling airline to its current status of the world’s second-largest airline.In the late 1950s, United was the first airline to introduce using radar to avoid thunderstorms, and Captain Jack was the “Poster Pilot” for United’s advertising of radar on the Douglas DC-6s.After flying with the Air Transport Command in the Pacific during World War II, Jack returned to domestic flying for United. During the 1950s he moved to Denver Domicile, living in Aspen.During that time and until retirement, Jack drove from Aspen to Denver weekly to fly his trips to New York, Chicago or Honolulu. This was before the Eisenhower Tunnel, cell phones and four-wheel-drive SUVs. Jack taught skiing and glider pilots in the Aspen area for many years. He retired from United in 1961, continuing with his travel service and instructing until age 75, amassing some 32,000 hours of flying.On Oct. 13, Jack flew with his wife, Shirley, to Washington to attend the RUPA convention and the Oct. 16 dedication of the “Wall of Honor” at the Udvar-Hazy Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport.The Wall of Honor is along the walkway leading into the new museum and has bronze airfoil panels engraved with names of friends of the museum. The RUPA panel will have more than 1,100 names.After a successful trip, Jack and Shirley urge anyone going to Washington, D.C., to visit the new Udvar-Hazy air museum.Jay Plank (RUPA member)retired United pilotHillsborough, Calif.