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College's first aviation course gets underway in the Boro
Bulloch History
Roger Allen

Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at places and events of interest in Bulloch County history.

 Part Two

More than 50 students had applied to a training school in the Civil Aeronautics Authority's new Civil Pilot Training Program, which prompted officials from Georgia Teachers College to request the class quota be raised from 15 to 30 students.

Fred Elsie and W. Hutchins were the flight inspectors, Bill Carpenter of the CAA was the grad school instructor, and Larry Dobbs was the flight instructor.

Inspections of the Statesboro Airport were completed and Statesboro Airport Corporation became the official flight contractor. R.D. Pullman of GTC was made the director of the Civilian Pilot Training Program, and was put in charge of ground operations.

The first 10 students selected for the program were Asa Barnard, of Glennville; Kranson Holloway, of Swainsboro; Clay Waller, of Tennille; Norman Speery, of Reidsville; Haywood Morrisson, of Thompson; Gesmon Nevils, of Statesboro; Leroy Cowart, of Atlanta; John King, of Hazlehurst; and Harrill Nelson, of Reidsville.

In the June 13, 1940 edition of the Bulloch Herald it was reported that GTC students were being tested by the Civil Aeronautics Authority's own Inspector L.N. Young. Gesmon Neville was tested for navigation and Spud Speery was tested for navigation and air regulations.

Eight other students were set to be tested later. Observing the tests was R.F. Vanina, a first lieutenant  in the Army Air Corps from Tampa, Florida, who made a special trip up from Tampa for the GTC pilot testing.

On June 27, 1940, the Bulloch Herald reported that six students got their pilots licenses. CAA inspector F.O. Easley Jr. passed Gesmon Nevils Jr., Clay Waller, Asa Barnard, Leroy Cowart Jr., Norman “Spud” Speery and Merrill Nelson.

Ewell Pigg, instructor of Science and Math at GTC was soon giving ground training, as well as offering courses in aviation history, structure, engines, radio, civil air regulation, meteorology and air navigation.

The next group of students signed up for the aviation program were Homer Blitch, Frank Aldred, James Tillman and Carrol Beasley of Statesboro; Delmar McGovern of Graymont; Chesley Whitley of Ocilla; John McArthur of Vidalia; and Edward Brown and Bobby Brinson of Brooklet.

In its July 6, 1940 edition, the Bulloch Herald reported on the training of 15 more flyers beginning June 15 and ending September 15 by the Private Flying Division of the CAA and the SAC, under the supervision of R.D. Pullam, director of GTC's Civilian Pilot Training Program.

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at

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