WDBJ7 Archive: Flying with Roanoke Aviation Legend Wes Hillman in 1973

Published: Jul. 14, 2023 at 7:09 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - 50 years ago this week, WDBJ7 went flying with Roanoke aviation legend Wes Hillman.

Hillman was Commander of the Roanoke squadron of the Civil Air Patrol during World War II and trained pilots for the Navy.

He was credited with training more student pilots than any other instructor in southwestern Virginia.

In July 1973, he took our photographer on a flight in his Waco biplane, and spoke with a reporter about his love for the aircraft.

“Wes, what’s so special about this plane to you,” our reporter asked? “Well, it’s special to me because it’s reminiscent of days gone by, of aviation the way that it used to be back in the ‘30s, and the fact that you can get up there with your helmet and your goggles on and just sit back and let the wind blow in your face and just relax and really enjoy the feel of flying,” he said.

Hillman was 94 years old when he died in 2016.