For most of us, one of the greatest things about flying T-34s is the people we meet. Lifelong friendships are forged from the common love of this 50 year-old airplane. I have been particularly fortunate to be able to associate with some of the finest men of our generation.
Ted Adams was a member of Tom Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation”. He flew P-47s in World War II and retired from the USAF with the rank of Colonel. Ted was a charter member of the Mentor Flyers, the flying club which spawned the Lima Lima Flight Team. Ted was also an early leader of the team. One of the smoothest pilots we knew, Ted earned the sobriquet “Stick” for his seat-of-the-pants flying talents.
We knew him primarily as a great pilot, but Ted was much more than that. Ted and June raised 3 daughters and 1 son. Their children gave them 12 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. Ted was also a great businessman, founding a multi-million dollar insurance agency in Oakbrook, Illinois.
But the thing we will remember most about Ted is his positive attitude toward people. It was nearly impossible to get Ted to say a bad word about anybody. In fact, he was more likely to go out of his way to say good things about you. When Bill Cherwin and I went to his retirement party from the insurance business, it was to tell a room full of business associates about the great pilot we knew. When Bill and I got up to pay tribute to Ted, he promptly took over the microphone and told them what great pilots we were!
On May 14, 2005, Ted joined that great formation of pilots who will never grace our skies again. We will forever miss him, but we will never forget his grace and good humor.