Jim Ratliff Heads for Pensacola Beach During Veterans Flight 2014
Stearman pilot Jim Ratliff was one of the four original Stearman pilots who flew the first multi-plane Veterans Flight in 2014, and we’re fortunate to have him flying with us again for Veterans Flight – 2019 Pensacola Beach Air Show.
Jim was born and raised in Cleveland, Mississippi. After graduating from high school in 1961, he attended Mississippi State University where he participated in the Air Force ROTC program.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1965 he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force and sent to flight school at Craig Field in Selma, Alabama. After earning his wings he went to Sewart AFB in Smyrna, Tennessee where he was trained to fly C-130's. Jim was qualified to fly LAPES (Low Altitude Parachute Extractions) and CDS (Container Delivery System) missions. He then did a combat tour in Vietnam where he was shot at, but never hit.
Six years in the Air Force were followed by several years of corporate and charter flying before he joined Delta Air Lines in 1972. He retired from Delta in 2003 having flown as captain on the Lockheed L-1011, as well as the Boeing 727, 737, 757, 767, and 777. Jim has logged more than 23,000 flight hours, including more than 1,500 flight hours in his Stearman.
Jim’s Stearman was manufactured as a Navy N2S-5 and used at Navy training bases at Ottumwa, Iowa; Corpus Christi, Texas and Brunswick, Georgia. Jim purchased it in 1992, after it was retired from its role as a trainer at a crop dusting school. Over the next three years Jim totally restored it in Army Air Corps colors. Since then he has flown it more than 1,500 flight hours, with time out in 2010 for another total restoration that took more than a year. Jim is extremely active in the Stearman Restorers Association and is recognized as an expert on the various models of propellers installed on Stearmans.
Jim Ratliff (AAC #130) Leads a Four-Ship Formation Down Pensacola Beach During Veterans Flight 2015