Capt. James John Hoogerwerf, Ph.D.

Capt. James John Hoogerwerf, Ph.D.

James "Jim" Hoogerwerfwas born Dec 25, ’43 in Detroit, MI. During WWII his father supervised the manufacturing of Pratt & Whitney R-2800. After the war in ’49 his father transferred to Paris. Jim's first flight at age six was a Lockheed 049. This passenger liner made a lasting impression. Growing up Jim flew in the DC-3, DC-6B, Boeing Stratocruiser, Vickers Viscount, Bristol Britannia, Sud Aviation Caravelle, DC-8, Boeing 707 and others.

Jim graduated from the International School in the Netherlands in ’62 and earned a degree in International Affairs at George Washington University.  Jim joined the AF ROTC as an aviation cadet and soloed in a Cessna 150D with 8:35 hours in his log book. He earned his private pilot license under a contract with the AF. Upon graduation in ’66 he was commissioned to 2nd Lt in the USAF.

Jim reported to Webb AFB for flight training and flew the T-41, T-37, & the supersonic T-38 Talon. After earning wings, Jim transitioned to the Lockheed C-130 and was assigned to the 773rd Tactical Airlift Squadron, 463rd Tactical Airlift Wing, in the Philippines. The wing was tasked to support the Vietnam airlift. From May ’68 - May ’70 he flew over 1100 sorties & more than 900 combat hrs. He upgraded to aircraft commander in-theater & completed his tour in command of his own airplane & crew in the war zone. He was assigned to Pope AFB & flew rotations to Europe in support of USAFE requirements. These included Berlin Corridor missions & Red Cross relief flights to Amman, Jordan during operation Fig Hill. He instructed Vietnam bound C-130 pilots on tactical procedures used in-country. Jim’s decorations include the DFC, 6 Air Medals, & Vietnam Service Medal with 5 battle stars.

Jim was hired as a Delta Air Lines pilot in ’72 & Atlanta based his entire career. He served as a flight engineer on the Convair 880, Boeing 727, and DC-8; copilot on the DC-9, Boeing 727, & Lockheed L-1011; Captain on the MD-88, Boeing 757, & 767.

He soon earned a seaplane rating & bought a 1980 Cessna 172 which he leased back to his brother. With the money from the sale of the 172, Jim bought N5954T, the Cessna 150 he had soloed in ’65. It was restored to its original appearance and based at Mathis Airport, GA until it closed in 2014. He retired two years early as an international Boeing 767ER Captain in December 2001 with over 20,000 hours logged to pursue a Doctoral degree in the history of technology program at Auburn University.

While flying over the Mississippi Delta a senior captain made the comment, there’s Monroe, where Delta got its start.”  A few years later Auburn University history professors Lewis & Newton wrote Delta: The History of an Airline. A complimentary copy was presented to employees to commemorate Delta's 50th. In Delta, Lewis and Newton situate the early years of the airline in the context of the industry as a whole. To understand the details of Delta's origins, researching its early history became a hobby and Jim pursued his quest while an active pilot on off days or while away on trips. He bid for rotations with overnights in states along Delta's original “Trans Southern route” SC, GA, AL, MS, LA, and TX.

Jim looked for information in any city with a Delta connection: Ogdensburg, New York, Tallulah, Louisiana, Atlanta and Macon, Georgia, and many others. He traveled thousands of miles and spent hundreds of hours discovering and reviewing primary source materials. Jim visited the Harl V. Brackin Library at the Museum of Flight in WA and, on the east coast, the NY Public Library. In Lima he studied at the Biblioteca Nacional del Peru and in Santiago the Biblioteca Nacional de Chile. Closer to home, he spent countless hours in the Delta Corporate Archives.

With the knowledge he gained, Dr. Lewis encouraged Jim to apply to Auburn. He began his studies in 2002 and was awarded his Ph.D. in 2010. The title of his dissertation is Roots: From Crop Duster to Airline, The Origins of Delta Air Lines to World War II, telling the story of how Delta began as the result of an incremental and evolutionary process involving many individuals. He is continuing his research with the intention of writing a book on Delta’s early years.

Jim was admitted as an honorary member to the Academia De Historia Aernautica Del Peru for his research on Peruvian aviation history. Jim composed his own poem, The Allure of Flight, about man’s yearning for flight. He wrote aviation and historic related articles for the Southern Aviator & Delta Golden Wings. Book reviews for Technology & Culture..

Jim is a life member of the Atl Vietnam Veterans Business Assoc. He guest lectures college classes & informal groups. He mentors students in the Newnan HS Vietnam War history class, participates in the EAA Young Eagles program, and helps Boy Scouts earn their aviation merit badge. He served as secretary of the Delta Golden Wings committee which reunites retired Delta pilots. Jim accompanied his brother on 4 trips to Arusha, Tanzania to assist in conducting voluntarily inspections on 2 US registered Cessna 206s operated by the Flying Medical Service. This humanitarian service takes nurses & doctors on clinics at remote airfields in the Serengeti. An estimated 20,000 Maasai patients are treated each year.