Capt. James L. Mynning, air show and airline pilot, was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1930. He first soloed on July 16, 1946 in an Aeronca 7AC Champion, and would go on to play an important role in developing the air show circuit in the 1950s. As a teenager, he purchased production aircraft, landed in an open field next to his parents’ home, disassembled the aircraft and then modified it for an air show look and performance. During that time, he provided narration for fellow performers and then became a full-time announcer at major and minor air shows in North America, serving as master of ceremonies for the entire event.
In addition to announcing, Mynning was sought after as an air show pilot. He developed five unique acts using a Piper J-3 or Piper Super Cub. One of his acts included a car to plane transfer, where he would fly in close and pluck a stunt man from the hood of a speeding car via a rope ladder. He also did more power boat to airplane transfers than any other living person. During one of his other acts, he would attempt to land his Cub on a platform built atop a pickup truck, known as “The World’s Smallest Airport.” Those attempts were almost always successful.
From 1955 until 1990, Mynning was an airline pilot and captain. In 1974, he was named United Airlines Pilot of the Year among 5,000 pilots for safely landing a 737 with a dangling engine without injuries to passengers or crew. His skill and knowledge as an aerobatic pilot was attributed to his successful landing.
He has had co-ownership of airports in Ann Arbor, Chelsea and Tecumseh. All three airports were the home of members of an air show group known as the Ann Arbor Air Force. In addition to being the headquarters to the renowned members of the group, the airports were also the sites of many air shows. For a number of years, he was vice chairman of air show operations at EAA Oshkosh, the world’s largest aviation event.
Jim Mynning has contributed to the air show industry as an announcer, pilot, producer and director, has more than 35,000 hours of flying experience, He continues to contribute to the history of air shows.