MERIDIANVILLE, Ala. – Local aviation legend Clyde Harold Shelton passed away at home on Saturday, June 10, after a brief illness.
Family members say he passed away comfortably in the arms of his beloved wife of 62 years, Sara West Shelton.
Mr. Shelton was born in Taft, Tennessee, on March 7, 1931. He joined the United States Air Force in 1951 where he trained as a crew chief on the T-33 and F86 aircraft.
After his service, he began flight instructing both in Fayetteville and Huntsville in 1963.
Mr. Shelton flew actively until November 30, 2016, when he ended his aviation career having given well over 20,000 hours of flight instruction.
He graduated over 1,000 students as an FAA Flight Examiner and beginning in 1987 he administered a United States record 10,379 check ride flights.
His personal logbook documents 38,971 actual flight hours with ratings as an Airline Transport Pilot, Single and Multi engine Instrument Instructor and Cessna Citation jet. Clyde actually had two careers.
Shelton was also a charter member of NASA at the Marshall Space Flight Center, working from the beginning with Dr. Werner Von Braun on all the launch vehicles from the Redstone Rocket to the Saturn V Moon Rocket, finishing after 38 years with the Shuttle program in 1993.
Clyde Shelton’s legacy is firmly established in those lives he touched. He was a genuine aviation professional. For his extraordinary and endearing contributions to aviation, Clyde was elected into the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame in 2016.
Shelton was also awarded The Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” Award in 2010 for fifty years of service in aviation.
Visitation with the family will be held Wednesday, June 14, at 1 p.m. until time of service at 4 p.m. at Higgins Funeral Home in Fayetteville
There will also be a special funeral send off at the Madison County Executive Airport (MDQ) in Meridianville on Thursday, June 15.
Family members said that as a co-founder, the MDQ held a special place in Clyde Shelton’s heart. His son Steve Shelton said that his father searched for a long time to get just the right property to build the airport on in 1966.
A reception will be held at the MDQ at 11 a.m. followed by services and a flyover honoring Mr. Shelton at 1 p.m. done by members of the Yankee Air Force in vintage planes.