Captain Norman Topshe was born in Camden, S.C. in May of 1914. He officially soloed July 5, 1936 in Albany, Ga. He received his private license on June 14, 1938 and commercial license on April 19, 1939. later he went on to Barnstorm through South, GA and North, FL until late 1939.
In late 1939 he served as Flight Instructor for Hawthorne flying Service in conjunction with the University of S.C. he then went on to accept a position as co-pilot with Delta Air Line where he remained until 1992. he retired after 31 years as a captain at the age of 60. He was then re-hired under a separate contract as a consultant in flight operations. He served as a liaison between the pilots and top management for an additional 17 years. He often rode the jump seat on all types of aircraft as a liaison between the flight crew and top management.
Captain Topshe’s career, both as a Captain and Flight Operation consultant turned out to be a Hallmark. In the early 1940’s he was elected Chairman of the Airline Pilots Union for Delta, then chairman of the Negotiating committee for the pilot’s contract. In mid 1945 he was elected as Chairman-Master Executive Council (MEC). During this time he co-authored and promoted the Pilot’s Mutual Aid Association which today is a multi-million dollar project which protects the pilot during an illness or disability. Later, it became a national project for the nation’s airlines. During the late 1940’s and early 1950’s Captain Topshe was appointed Chairman of the Retirement and Insurance Committee of Delta pilot’s. in the early and mid 1950’s he was also appointed Chairman of the Pilots Grievance Committee and Contract Administrations. Captain Topshe was also Chairman and mentor of most pilot contracts.
During his career he was also a line check airman on the CDC-9 and Boeing 747 performing periodic flight checks for qualified line pilots and initial line checks for new pilots. Captain Topshe served as a member of Delta’s Retirement and Insurance committee during contract negotiations in 1973 when their major retirement program went into effect based on 60% of final 5 years of a average earnings. They were leaders in the industry of this type of retirement program.
Captain Topshe’s last flight for Delta occurred in the summer of 1993 when at the age of 70 he ferried Delta’s only remaining DC-3 from
San Juan, PR to Atlanta. The DC-3 was restored to its original condition, licensed and flown on exhibitions throughout the US. His total time with Delta was 51 years covering over 7,000 pilots and logging approximately 33,000 flying hours.