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Last of AOPA’s charter members diesLast of AOPA’s charter members dies

Earle Benjamin Blomeyer learned to fly before AOPA was formed and was the last of the association’s first 250 members to make his final flight: Blomeyer died Feb. 8 in Atlanta, at age 102.

AOPA charter member Earle Blomeyer was honored in 2014 at a gathering at Wings Field to mark the association's seventy-fifth anniversary. AOPA File photo.

Blomeyer was the last living link to the launch of what became the largest aviation organization in the world, having joined in 1939 at the urging of a friend and fellow pilot who had just visited Wings Field near Philadelphia, where AOPA’s story had only just begun. Blomeyer became member 242, and was the star attraction at a 2014 gathering at Wings Field to celebrate the association’s seventy-fifth anniversary. Addressing that gathering, which also included all living AOPA presidents, past and present, Blomeyer declared the Beech Staggerwing his favorite airplane, and the jet engine the most significant aviation innovation he had seen during a flying career that began in the 1930s.

Blomeyer was born Oct. 22, 1915, in Waco, Texas, and graduated from Northwestern University with degrees in commerce and law. He served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II and helped build the communications infrastructure in Tokyo following the Japanese surrender. He went on to write about his experience there, and he was driven throughout his life by curiosity about people and places, according to an obituary published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“There was no place on earth that he did not want to visit at least once,” Blomeyer’s family noted in the obituary. “He loved all cultures, people and animals. He will be forever missed by all who were touched by his kindness, generosity and love."

AOPA charter member Earle Blomeyer gets a handshake from AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker during a commemoration of the association’s seventy-fifth anniversary in 2014 as AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines looks on. AOPA file photo.

Blomeyer retired as chairman of the board of Gladwin Plastics Inc., served as secretary of the Tennessee Independent Telephone Association, and president of the Kentucky Independent Telephone Association, among other roles and memberships. He never owned an airplane, but frequently rented or borrowed from friends, logging hours in a range of aircraft including open-cockpit Fleet biplanes, along with Aeroncas and others. He soloed a Piper Cub after just eight hours and earned his private pilot certificate after 20 hours.

Blomeyer attended AOPA’s fiftieth anniversary celebration in Orlando, Florida, in 1989, learning only then that being among the first 250 pilots to join AOPA qualified him as a charter member. By 2014, he was the last survivor of this group, and AOPA made him an honorary life member, marked by a golden membership card, and a charter member’s shirt and jacket presented by AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker at the Wings Field event.

Blomeyer is survived by his wife, Stephanie Strand Blomeyer, who accompanied him to Wings Field in 2014 and recently shared news of his passing. His first wife, Frances Katherine Kelly Blomeyer, preceded him in death. A niece, brother-in-law, and several great nieces and great nephews also survive him, along with more than 300,000 fellow AOPA pilots who owe a debt to those who broke the trail.

Former AOPA President Phil Boyer, charter member Earle Blomeyer, AOPA President Mark Baker, and former AOPA President Craig Fuller celebrate AOPA's seventy-fifth anniversary at Wings Field in 2014. AOPA file photo.
Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Editor-Web Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.
Topics: AOPA, Pilots

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