Skip Holm - Part 2
Today we continue the story of Skip Holm, decorated fighter pilot from North Dakota, born this week in 1944.
Holm flew 163 combat missions in the F-105 Thunderbird over Vietnam. Then, as the F-105s were phased out, he moved to the F-4E Phantom fighter for another 189 missions before completing his third tour in 1971.
When Vietnam was behind him, he joined the Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, but his combat experience earned him a place in the Pacific Air Forces' "Combat Sage" training, a forerunner to the Top Gun program. This program allowed pilots to train with live weapons in simulated combat conditions.
In 1978, Skip would become part of the elite team of test pilots for Lockheed's Skunk Works, which designed and tested the U-2R, the F-117 Nighthawk Stealth fighter and the F-22 Raptor among other top secret aircraft. He would continue on in the Air Force reaching the rank of Lt. Colonel.
In 1992, the lure of Hollywood drew him away from the military and he initiated his own company called Fighter Tech. For the next five years he acquired and managed fighter aircraft for movies and commercials, doing much of the stunt flying himself and appearing in such movies as Hot Shots, Mission of the Shark, Firebirds and the Right Stuff. He also appeared on television. Among the most notable, he performed the out-of-control maneuver on the opening credits for the Six Million Dollar Man.
Skip also found time for a hobby, air racing, and became rookie of the year in 1981, but it wasn't until later that he was able to devote more time to this adventure, winning often.
During the 1990s, Skip Holm was associated with a number of different companies as a test pilot, stunt coordinator or marketing specialist, but in 1998 he developed his own company, Bear Aircraft. This company uses state-of-the-art techniques in developing both metal and composite aircraft for a variety of functions with facilities scattered across the globe including Poland, China and Russia.
Most recently, Skip Holm received the Living Legend in Aviation of the Year award for his lifelong passion in the field of aviation on January 23, 2010. Among the notables receiving other awards that night were Morgan Freeman, John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Buzz Aldrin, Kurt Russell and Cliff Robertson.
So, whether it was his childhood beanie with the propeller on top or watching the eagles soar in the Badlands that created the urge to fly within this North Dakota farm boy, Skip Holm would go on to serve his country well in Vietnam and become one of the elite in the world of aviation.
Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis
Stark County Heritage and Destiny, Taylor Publishing Company, 1978
Register of North Dakota Veterans, Vietnam Conflict, 1964-1973; North Dakota Adjutant General's Office 1981