More detail on this person: Holbert, Donald L. USArmy Flight Class: 63 - 1T, RVN: 240 AHC,
Gun Platoon Leader, '67 - '68, Callsign: Mad Dog 6
Donald "Don" L. Holbert, one of Arkansas' great aviation pioneers, died September 27, 2015 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Born on March 6, 1940 in Little Rock to Claud and Gladys Holbert, Don was a distinguished aviator who dedicated his entire life to his passion, aviation. His father began Central Flying Service, Little Rock, in 1939 where he instilled in Don a great love of aviation from a very young age. Don soloed the day following his 16th birthday, and by age 20 he received his instructor's license and began teaching at the family business.
A graduate of Wentworth Military Academy, Lexington, Missouri, in 1957 and Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in 1961, Don was a distinguished ROTC graduate and won many medals for his championship marksmanship.
Following his education, Don received a commission with distinction in the U.S. Army where he rose to the rank of Captain. He was a platoon leader and gunship helicopter pilot in Vietnam earning the Distinguished Flying Cross with "V" device for Valor, the Bronze Star, 32 Air Medals and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry.
He returned stateside in 1968 and continued his career in aviation at Central Flying Service that spanned 60 years. Don helped to establish Arkansas' first medical transport helicopter in 1985. The helicopter, a Bell 206, known today as "Angel One" provided critical care transport to pediatric patients across Arkansas and surrounding states.
His father, who was a pilot himself, taught Don the skills to be an expert aerial photography pilot. His ability to fly while holding the aircraft incredibly steady earned Don the rights to some very interesting assignments. Among them, on June 11, 1977, Don was the pilot of a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter for NBC's national news crew covering the escape and capture of James Earl Ray, the alleged killer of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ray was captured two days later and returned to prison. Another assignment, Don was called upon to fly the national news crew for CBS on August 18, 1975 to cover the funeral of Elvis Presley in Memphis, Tennessee. CBS entrusted Don and his steady abilities to navigate through the media frenzy, which earned CBS top coverage of the event.
Don served as board member to the National Air Transportation Association, an organization that represents general aviation interests in Washington, D.C. He was currently serving on the Board of Visitors, Wentworth Military Academy, and the Executive Advisory Board of the School of Business at Ouachita Baptist University. Don was a founding member of the Arkansas Aviation Historical Society and inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame in 2006.
Don obtained an Airline Transport Pilot Rating with privileges in single and multi-engine airplanes and Lear jets. He accumulated 5,000 flying hours, half in fixed wing aircraft and half in helicopters. He was co-owner and Chairman of the Board of Central Flying Service, Inc. until his death.
Don was an avid hunter and fisherman and enjoyed traveling the world with the love of his life, Linda. They enjoyed spending weekends at their house on the Little Red River, a trout fishing stream near Heber Springs, Arkansas. He also loved restoring antique cars, namely a '51 Chevy 2-door hard top and a '54 Chevy Belair. Taking the cars to Antique Car Shows, Don won numerous medals for his restoration skills. He was a philanthropic man and a member of many organizations who silently and generously donated to most all of them.
He is survived by wife of 54 years, Linda Vail Holbert, his son Steve, daughter-in-law Susan, granddaughter Hayden, and one brother Richard, all of Little Rock, a cousin, five nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his parents and sister, Claudette Stewart.
This information was last updated 05/18/2016
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Date posted on this site: 07/01/2020
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