The Passing of an Airman


New Member
Upon opening my email this evening, I received the sad news that my friend and former flight instructor and mentor, Jess Shryack had died. He was 87 and had been living in a nursing home since he suffered a stroke 5 years ago. Prior to that, he was still an active pilot and instructor. He was also a great human being. In the time that I knew him, I don't recall him having a bad thing to say about anyone and he reguarded everyone as his friend. He loved life, people and antique airplanes and cars. Jess was a CPTP instructor in WWII. In 1950 he was hired by American Airlines. He flew the last of the great recip airliners, saw the transtition to jets and retired in 1981 as a DC-10 captain. A few years later, he went back to work for American at their flight academy as an instructor in the 707 simulator and continued in that capacity for many years. One of his simulator students was John Travolta. The ink was still wet on my private ticket when we first met in '82 and I knew nothing about tailwheels, or radial engines. He proceeded to correct this deficiency in my aeronautical knowledge. He generously taught me to fly taildraggers in his Luscombe. I also had the privilege of many rides in his Staggerwing....even a little right seat time occasionally. NC17GB is the airplane that is my avatar. Though it has been many years, I can still hear the soul stirring sound of that big Pratt coming to life. Thank you, Captain, for letting me experience that. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and, especially your friendship. You are now back in your to loop and roll and soar without earthly bounds. Have a good flight.
An excellent tribute to what sounds like a true aviator....well said Retread and my sincere condolences.
he has touched the clouds... and now doesn't have to mess with being coordinated or not.

RIP - and peaceful journeys......
I met Jess a half dozen times at Fly-ins (in Denton) and my Grandpa and he were friends. He was a good man and I am sorry for his passing. Excellent tribute to him. RIP
I regretably have to add another fallen airman who was not only one of my professors, but contributed greatly to me being where I am today.

Dr. Thomas Nevin Sledge, of Cleveland, MS, passed away on December 25, 2008 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. Sledge joined the Delta State Staff as an aviator instructor in 1990, and became chair of the department in 1997. He held a masters degree in commercial aviation from the University of Louisiana in Monroe and a doctorate of education from Delta State University. Sledge is survived by his wife, Alinda Capps Sledge, son, Allen Thomas Sledge, brother Wilson Sledge, sisters Melissa Sledge Osborne and Luanne Sledge, father Nevin Sledge, and father-in-law, Senator Charlie Capps.​

He was also a former Air Force aviator.
My grandfather was a DC10 CA for AA in the 80's, I wonder if they knew each other.

Sounds like a good man though.