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Jim Markel Presented with Master Pilot Award


Jim Markel was an Eagle Scout in High School and enlisted in the Marine Corps at 19. He graduated from Boot Camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot-San Diego as Honor Man of his platoon and was assigned to the 8th Marines at Camp Pendleton where he applied for the Marine Aviation Cadet program. He reported to the Naval Air Training Command in Pensacola, Florida and soloed in a Beechcraft T-34 Mentor on February 23, 1963.  He went on to be trained, and qualify on aircraft carriers, in the T-28 Trojan and his first swept-wing jet, the Grumman F-9 Cougar. He completed Advanced Jet Training in the supersonic Grumman F-11 Tiger receiving his Naval Aviator Wings, was commissioned a 2nd Lt. USMC, and ordered to MCAS El Toro flying Chance Vought F-8 Crusaders, the first production airplane to sustain 1,000 MPH in level flight. He was sent to Landing Signal Officer’s School at NAS North Island and was designated his squadron’s LSO.

He was ordered to the Third Marine Amphibious Force in Southeast Asia as a Forward Air Controller in late 1965. Half way through his 14 month tour, he was transferred to Marine All-Weather Fighter Squadron 235 flying the E model Crusader as a Division Leader and Safety Officer. (From PFC in a Howitzer Battery to Captain in a Fighter Squadron in 5 years). He flew over 100 combat missions and was awarded 5 Air Medals and The Distinguished Flying Cross.

Jim finished his Marine Corps service as an instructor teaching aerodynamics, fighter tactics, and ground-controlled radar approaches flying the North American T-39 (military version of the civilian Sabreliner), early model F-8’s, and (unusual for a Marine) the Lockheed T-33, the Grumman S2F, and the Lockheed EC-121 (the electronics warfare version of the Super Constellation airliner).  He is a graduate of the Navy’s Instructor Training Course.

Upon discharge from the Marines, he joined Pan American World Airways and was assigned to their Business Jets Division testing, ferrying across the Atlantic, and demonstrating French-made business jets (the Dassault Falcon 20) which Pan Am at the time held exclusive Western hemisphere marketing rights.  He subsequently became Cessna’s Manager of Flight Operations in charge of worldwide jet flight demonstrations.

Jim later headed aircraft management and sales companies, served as Director of Operations under both Parts 121 and 135 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, and has been a long term aviation consultant in a number of specialties from Aircraft Appraisals to Cockpit Design Human Factors to Flight Department Audits.  He has authored numerous Technical and Procedural Publications.  Jim is a Certified Senior Aircraft Appraiser, served two years as a Governor on the International Appraisers’ Board, was elected to consecutive terms as Chairman of the National Aircraft Resale Association, a Washington, DC-based trade organization that establishes ethical standards for aircraft transactions, and recently completed five years on GE Capital’s Corporate Aircraft Advisory Board.

Jim holds an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with 10 Type Ratings in Transport Category Jets:

Boeing 747 Falcon 20
Citation 500 Series Falcon 200
Citation 10 Gulfstream 1159
Challenger 600 Series Learjet
Falcon 10 Sabreliner

His license includes Commercial Privileges for Single Engine Land and Sea.  He has also served as an FAA-designated Pilot Proficiency Examiner.

Jim attributes his 50+ years and 8,500 hours as pilot-in-command of accident/incident-free flying, to excellent training and the willingness of people like you to give of their time mentoring and providing knowledge and guidance to fellow aviators of the principles that keep us safe.  Jim benefited greatly from this dedication of others to keeping his safety record intact through challenging circumstances such as aircraft carrier and combat operations, and landing civil jets (on purpose) on a frozen lake in Alaska and a section of interstate highway under construction near St. Louis, and, flying 1,000 hours in a single seat high-performance airplane, with, as he puts it “an equal number of takeoffs and landings”. The second generation fighter he flew in the Marines experienced a loss rate roughly 80 times greater than the later F-16 and F-18 in the first five years of operation.

Jim practices what he preaches and always takes a conservative approach to his flying.  He maintains his awareness and currency, dedicates his time to putting something back into the Aviation Community, and is a frequent attendee at the FAA’s Safety Team events.