It all begin when Skipper Hyle earned his Pilot Certificate at the age of 17. He continued flying during college, and earned his Commercial, Multi and Instrumental ratings then moved on to pass his Certified Flight Instructor check ride in 1983. He began his career as an instructor and flying charters.
Skipper decided to join the United States Air Force later in life. In 1986 he went straight into Officer Training School with the sole ambition of becoming a fighter pilot. He became known as the “90 Day Wonder”. On the fast track he attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Reese Air Force Base and graduated with his wings and first F-16 assignment in February of 1988.
In 1995 he was hired by ValuJet Airlines in Atlanta, GA and has been flying with them ever since. He is Senior Captain on the Boeing 737, with over 12,000 hours of flying time. He is typed in for the DC-3, DC-9 and B-737. Additionally he has earned his Advanced Ground Control Instructor.
After reaching Captain status, he celebrated with the purchase of the 1952 Harvard Mk4, J’s Bird. This plane is what he flies today in air shows around the world. J’s Bird was named after Skipper’s first born. He this warbird to be a part of his family and the star of the show!
The AT-6 Harvard flown by Skipper Hyle has a long history. With only 600 left actually flying today, it is almost extinct. Production of this model dates back to 1938 and was stopped after only approx 15,000 were made. British spotting manuals mention the sound of the Harvard as it’s identifying feature, because it sounded like a two stroke motorcycle. During World War II, the Harvard trained almost all Allied pilot, and in some variants trained aerial gunners with a swivel gun mounted in the rear cockpit.
The model flown by Skipper Hyle, the Canadian Car and Foundry Harvard MK IV, has a paint scheme that represents the training and administrative aircraft in Britain during World War II. The serial number is the actual serial that belongs to a Harvard MK II that saw service in England.
The specs on this remarkable plane are:
Wing span – 42 feet and 4 inches
Plane length – 27 feet and 11 inches
Gross weight – approximately 5700 pounds
Engine – one Pratt and Whitney R-1340-AN-1
Horsepower – 600 rated at take off (36 inches of Manifold pressure/2250 RPM)
To read more about Skipper and his AT-6 Harvard, check out Warbird Alley.