Beverly E Bevo Howard
Beverly E. Howard was born August 11, 1914 in Bath, South Carolina and was reared in Augusta, Georgia. At the age of 16 he learned to fly and helped pay for flying lessons by making parachute jumps and selling airplane rides. He started flying in 1930 and soloed in 1931. Soon afterwards, he bought his first airplane, an OX-5 Waco 10, with money saved from a newspaper route. In 1932, he quit junior college in his freshman year to join the newly established Hawthorne Aviation at Charleston, South Carolina, starting as a line boy at $10 a week.
By 1936, at the age of 21, he had become President of Hawthorne. Between 1936 and 1938 he joined Eastern Airlines, becoming the youngest commercial pilot in the nation. Seeing a bright future for commercial aviation and flight training, he laid the groundwork for Hawthorne’s expansion. Between 1939 and 1943, Hawthorne conducted flight training for The College of Charleston, The Citadel, and the University of South Carolina.
In 1942, he demonstrated to the U.S. Army the operational utility of light aircraft in modern warfare, artillery spotting, air rescue and other purposes under combat conditions. In 1941, Howard had received a contract to operate a primary flying school for the Army Air Force at Orangeburg, SC, which was in operation until the end of World War II. During that time, some 6,000 combat pilots were trained, of whom more than 2,000 were French Air Force students. For his leadership, Bevo Howard was presented the French Air Force Wings, the coveted French Medaille de L’Aeronautique, and later the Ordre National de la Legion D’Honneur for his pilot training and accomplishments as an aerobatic flyer. Two classes of Pakistani cadets were trained by Hawthorne at Jacksonville in 1948-49 and 1952-53. In January of 1951, Hawthorne was awarded a contract by the U.S. Air Force to operate a primary flying school at Spence Air Base in Moultrie, Georgia. Approximately 10,000 pilots were trained in 10 years, with students from 32 countries.
A rare combination of pilot and businessman, Bevo became interested in flying air show exhibitions in 1933 and had flown in the U.S. and abroad before millions of air show spectators and television viewers. He held six first-place championships for precision aerobatic flying. In 1939, 1940 and 1941, he won the National Lightplane Aerobatic Championships. He copped top honors in the International Aerobatic Championship for all classes in 1946-47 and placed second in 1948 and 1950.
Though his exhibition flying was just a hobby, he was once the highest paid air show pilot in the country. Bevo, in 1938, became the first flyer to outside loop a light plane, performing the feat in a 37 1/2 HP Piper Cub. This was beginning of the present-day Army Aviation. He was the first and only pilot to accomplish an inverted ribbon pickup hands off.
His civic and club affiliations included numerous community groups both as member and officer. He was a member of the Washington Aero Club, Grasshoppers, Veteran Pilots’ Association, 0X-5 Club, American Helicopter Association, American Society of the French Legion of Honor, and Industrial Committee of 100. He also served as president of the Aeronautical Training Society and the National Aviation Trades Association. In 1945, he was a charter member of the Air Power League and served as a member of the Industry Consulting Committee of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. He co-authored a book entitled You Can Learn to Fly, published by Prentice-Hall.
Frank Price, speaking of Bevo Howard, once said, “While so many people get recognition for their contributions to the art of aerobatics when actually they were only trying to hack out a living and bled the sport aviation part of it for themselves, Bevo, it can be said by all, never failed to help anyone he came in contact with.”
“He loved aerobatics and, like Tex Rankin, advocated ability and safety first and foremost. He know that haphazard stunt flying would only hurt the fine sport he dearly loved. He used his aerobatic talent and fame to advance himself in a business to the point of being a self-made millionaire, successful with most of his endeavors. But what made him a great human being was his recognition of the need to give of himself and his experience and knowledge to help new people coming into the sport of aerobatic flying… Let it be said he was a great benefit to his fellowman.”
Beverly E. “Bevo” Howard made his final flight West when his Bücker Jungmann clipped a tree while performing at an air show in Greenville, NC in October 1971. And so came to a close the life of one of the most respected and beloved men to ever climb into a cockpit.
ICAS’ first logo was based on a depiction of Bevo Howard’s signature manuever – flying upside down in his Bücker Jungmann… no hands!
Bevo Howard’s biography and photographs contributed by Walt Pierce, the American Barnstormer. ICAS logo contributed by Danny Clisham of Can-Am Airshow Productions.