Navy F6F Hellcat Pilot and Veterans Flight Regular Dick Pace Dies at 102

Navy F6F-5 Hellcat pilot and Veterans Flight regular Dick Pace died 20 February 2022 at the age of 102. This is another reminder that we have few remaining opportunities to honor and thank the World War II veterans who defeated Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire, making it possible for us to live in this great country.

Dick was the last survivor of the veterans who flew in the first Veterans Flight in 2014. He always wore his 1940’s Navy flight suit, which he had donated to the National Museum of Naval Aviation, when he flew with Veterans Flight, and it still fit perfectly.

2014 Veterans and Pilots.jpg

Veterans and Stearman Pilots - 2014

The First Veterans Flight

DSC_0019.JPG

Veterans Flight 2015

Dick Pace - F6F-5 Hellcat - 1945 - Saipan.jpg

Dick Pace in the Cockpit of

F6F-5 Hellcat - Saipan 1945

2016 Dick with Howard and Julie.jpg

Dick With Veterans Flight Pilots Howard and Julie Thomas After His Flight in Super Stearman "Queen of Memphis"

2019 - Dick and family.jpg

Dick and Family After His Flight in 2019

The story below was written in 2019 after I presented Dick Pace with his recognition as Lima Bravo #4 at a combination 100th birthday party and family reunion. 

Lima Bravo - 3.jpg

Dick Pace - Lima Bravo #4

It’s difficult to believe seven weeks have passed since Veterans Flight 2019, but good things have been happening. I recently had the pleasure of presenting Navy F6F-5 "Hellcat" pilot Dick Pace with Veterans Flight’s Lima Bravo award #4 during a combined Pace family reunion and celebration of his 100th birthday.

In order to qualify for the Lima Bravo award a veteran must fly with Veterans Flight during the Pensacola Beach Air Show and celebrate their 100th birthday. As the 4th recipient of the Lima Bravo award Dick joins a select group. This year Navy veteran and Pearl Harbor Survivor Frank Emond (Lima Bravo #2), Army B-25 pilot John Beard (Lima Bravo #3) and Dick all flew with us again. Lima Bravo #1, Army B-29 pilot Paul McClain, flew with Veterans Flight 2015 and 2016 before celebrating his 101st birthday during Veterans Flight 2017. We hoped Paul would fly again on his 102nd birthday but he "flew West" in April 2018. 

Dick flew with Veterans Flight 2014‘s first formation flights and has flown with us every year since. He and Army B-25 pilot John Beard (Lima Bravo #3) are the only veterans who have flown in every Veterans Flight and we’re looking forward to both flying again in 2020. Veterans Flight needs to send the National Museum of Naval Aviation a thank-you note as the museum graciously allows Dick to “borrow” his World War II flight suit each year. In addition to being in good enough shape that his 75+ years old flight suit still fits perfectly, Lima Bravo #4 drives himself to the airport in his 600+ horsepower RENNtech Mercedes SL.

Albert Lane - Army B-17 Pilot

On Friday 23 August 2019 Veterans Flight, in conjunction with Covenant Care’s “My Wish” program, was honored to fly Army B-17 pilot Albert Lane over the Pensacola Blue Wahoos' Stadium.

 

Thanks to ground-to-air radio communication by the professionals from the Appleyard Agency, the Stearman carrying Captain Lane flew into view following the National Anthem as a video featuring Captain Lane transitioned to the American flag.

 

Captain Lane, who is 97 years old, needed a little help to get into the front cockpit of the Stearman, but he thoroughly enjoyed his flight and later introduction to the crowd at the stadium.

 

Pensacola News Journal reporter Josh Newby’s story was front page, above the fold of Sunday’s local section.

Pensacola News Journal - Page 1 (Sunday
Captain Albert J Lane pic.JPG

Captain Albert Lane in Europe During World War II

Lane Crew 1.JPG

Captain Lane and His B-17 Crew

Pensacola News Journal - Intro on USA To
Pensacola News Journal - Page 2 (Sunday