Epps, Jr.
Ben T. Epps, Jr.

Ben T.Epps, Jr. (1916 - 2001)

In 1929, at the age of thirteen, Ben Epps, Jr. soloed in his father's Waco 9. Ben is the eldest son of ten children of Omie Williams and Ben T. Epps. He has been totally immersed in aviation all his life. His father, being Georgia's first aviator, built Georgia's first gasoline powered flying machine in 1907, four years after Orville and Wilbur Wright's historic flight. Widely publicized as "a lone eagle at thirteen," Pathe News filmed young Ben and newspapers from coast to coast covered his achievements. President Herbert Hoover, intrigued with stories of the boy pilot, invited him to visit the White House. At sixteen, he was the star attraction at air shows at Epps Field in Athens where his father established a flight school.  

For a decade, he ferried and serviced airplanes for the elder Epps and barnstormed throughout the Southeastern United States in Eaglerock, Travelair and Waco aircraft. He also continued aerobatic flying in the bi-plane designed and built by his father. In 1942, he joined the United States Army Air Corps as a flight instructor. Later he was assigned duty flying C-46 and C-47 aircraft over "The Hump" in the China-Burma-India theater during World War II. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal by the United States and also decorated by the government of China. From 1946-48, he operated his own flight school at the Atlanta Airport. In 1949 he joined Southern Airways, flying C-46, Martin aircraft and Douglas DC-9s over his twenty-seven years of service with the airline. In 1969, he built a flying replica of his father's 1912 monoplane which he displayed and flew at many air shows. In 1976, he retired from the airline as a Captain and with over 25,000 hours total flying time, set up a small aviation repair shop. This shop has become a haven for those seeking technical advice, guidance and assistance in aircraft restoration. His knowledge, craftsmanship and maintaining his qualifications as an A&P Mechanic, enabled him to restore many historical aircraft to flight.

He is a member of the Antique Aircraft Association and past president of the North Georgia Chapter.   Ben T. Epps, Jr. was enshrined May 7, 1994.