It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Mr. Clyde Harold Shelton. Clyde passed away after a brief illness comfortably in the arms of his beloved wife of 62 years, Mrs. Sara West Shelton.
Clyde was born in Taft, Tennessee on March 07, 1931. He worked hard early, operating a paper route to support his mother and younger sister at age 12. He went on to graduate from Central High School in 1949. He went to work at Kraft Foods until joining the United States Air Force in 1951 where he trained as a crew chief on the T-33 and F86 aircraft. During his service, Clyde developed an insatiable interest in aviation and vowed to one day buy his own aircraft.
Following his honorable discharge in 1955, Clyde finished his Business Degree at Indiana Tech. Clyde soloed and began earning his pilot’s credentials at Wilkes Field in Fayetteville where he did buy that aircraft and began flight instructing both in Fayetteville and Huntsville, Alabama in 1963.
Mr. Shelton, still actively flying until November 30, 2016, 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. A charter member of NASA, the Marshall Space Flight Center, he and his colleagues made aerospace history during our nation’s space race. He was there from the beginning working with Dr. Werner Von Braun working 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.
The patriarch of 3 generations of pilots, Clyde instructed his wife Sara in 1966, his son Scott, now a Boeing 747 Captain for Delta Airlines on his 16th birthday, and his grandson Nevada, currently a Captain in the United States Army flying the Blackhawk helicopter on his 16th birthday as well.
Clyde Shelton’s legacy is firmly established in those lives he touched. He was a genuine aviation professional. He was a man whose integrity, character, fond nature, and sincere interest in his students defined him as a man of competent humility.
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.
Clyde will be missed by all he touched during his long historical career, but most importantly by his wife Sara, his sons Steve and Scott (Gwen), grandchildren Ashley Davis (Johnny), Chase (Ashley), Nevada, Whitney (Marcus), Richard (Chelsea), and Cooper.
Additionally, he will be missed by his great-grandchildren Emma Grace, Anna Elizabeth, Abby, Walker, Ryder, Gunner, Ronin, and especially by his sister Jodeen Steeleman and his brother-in-law Ron (Dianah) West.
Mr. Shelton was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas Hamilton and Louella Shelton and his brother Thomas Owen Shelton.
Visitation with the family will be held Wednesday June 14, 2017 at 1 PM until time of service at 4 PM at Higgins Funeral Home with Bro. John Hathcock officiating. There will also be a very special funeral send off at the Madison County Executive Airport in Meridianville, Alabama Thursday June 15, 2017. A reception will be held at 11 AM followed by services and a fly over honoring Mr. Shelton at 1 PM. Burial will follow in Riverview Memorial Gardens with Military Honors.
Higgins Funeral Home is honored to be serving the family of Mr. Clyde Harold Shelton.