Donald Henry Rieger, 93, formerly of Williamsburg, VA, passed away on August 26, 2013 in Annapolis, MD. Don was born on June 1, 1920 in Youngstown, OH. He resided in Williamsburg from 1980 to 1999; from there, he moved to Charlottesville and later to Annapolis. He was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Florence Rieger, and his sister, Mary Elizabeth Rieger.
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At age 7, Don saw Charles Lindbergh fly over Youngstown in the "Spirit of St. Louis" and at that moment decided he would be a pilot. At age 15, he earned money for flying lessons in an E-2 Cub by sweeping out a cow-pasture hangar in Youngstown. Don proudly earned his pilot wings and soloed on his 16th birthday.
Shortly after WWII began, Don joined the Army Air Corps and was assigned to the Air Ferrying Command. At age 21, he led squadrons across the North and South Atlantic to Europe and North Africa. When his tour of duty was over, he was hired as a co-pilot for Capitol Airlines in Washington, D.C.
Early in 1948, he had an opportunity to join a new fledgling airline- Piedmont – as a Captain. On May 14, 1948, Don flew Piedmont Airline's inaugural flight between Norfolk and Cincinnati. Norfolk was Don's first and last base; he was also based for a short time in Atlanta, GA, and Washington D.C. Don devoted many hours with air safety committees through Piedmont and the Air Line Pilots Association. He retired from Piedmont Airlines after 32 years. His life was centered on family and flying.
Don is survived by his four children, Stephen, Dana, Wendy and Robert (Jennifer) and three grandchildren, Shelby, William and Catherine.
A private memorial service will be held in Washington D.C. on October 26th. Memorials may be made in Don's name to the Mid-Atlantic division of Air Charity Network, http://aircharitynetwork.org ; by phone 800-296-3797 or online at http://angelflightmidatlantic.org
Published in Virginia Gazette from Sept. 14 to Oct. 13, 2013