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WILLIAM K. KERSHNER (Pilot, Flight Instructor, Author) died at home on January 8th, 2007.

Bill was born and raised in Clarksville, TN, where he started flying in March 1945, at age fifteen. He worked as line boy and obtained private, commercial and flight instructor’s certificates by washing, fueling and propping airplanes. He later acquired instrument and airline transport pilot ratings and logged more than 11,000 including 1150 hours military, 1900 multiengine, 4300 aerobatic instruction and more than 8000 separate spins of up to 25 turns.

He attended Iowa State University at Ames, IA, and Austin Peay State College at Clarksville, TN. He graduated Iowa State in 1960, with a degree in technical journalism with courses in aerodynamics, stability and control, design and performance, plus math, and structures, in the aeronautical engineering area.

In the early 1950s, he entered the Naval Aviation Cadet program in Pensacola and after training joined VC-3 based in California; he flew World War II fighters and early jets in California and was a F4U Corsair nightfighter pilot off the carrier Philippine Sea in the Pacific. He was navigation and instrument training officer, chase pilot in F9F-6 Cougars and jet transition training officer in T-33s for VC-3.

Later he was a corporate pilot for Texas Gas Transmission Corp. in Owensboro, KY, flying the Beech Bonanza, Aero-Commander, Twin Beech and the DC-3. From 1960 to 1964, he worked for Piper Aircraft Corporation at Lock Haven, PA, in several capacities--as a contract sales engineer, demonstrating airplanes to the military at various U.S. bases; as head of flight testing; and as assistant to Mr. W.T. Piper, Sr. in the Piper Airpark Program.

After coming to Sewanee, TN, to write books full-time in 1964, Bill flew charter, instructed and operated an aerobatic and advanced instruction school with more than 500 students completing his course in "defensive flying;" the course included basic airplane performance, stability and control and basic and advanced aerobatic maneuvers.

He was a guest lecturer at UTSI in Tullahoma, TN, lectured and demonstrated spins to engineers and test pilots at the Naval Air Test Center in Patuxent, MD, and lectured at the FBI academy. He also taught at various Pilot Refresher courses around the country.

He wrote his first book, The Student Pilot’s Flight Manual, in 1960, while still at Iowa State University. Other books include The Advanced Pilot’s Flight Manual, The Instrument Flight Manual, and The Flight Instructor’s Manual. His book, Logging Flight Time, is a collection of articles that covered his 61 years of flying. More than 1 million copies of his books were sold. He also wrote numerous articles that appeared in “AOPA Pilot,” “Smithsonian Air and Space,” “Flying,” “Air Progress,” “Skyways,” “Private Pilot” and other aviation magazines.

He is survived by his wife, Betty Kershner; daughter, Cindy Kershner and her husband Mark Manz; son Bill Kershner and his wife Donna; two grandsons, Jim and Travis Kershner; and sisters Sarah Jane Grant (husband Dale) and Molly Cook.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the William and Elizabeth Kershner Scholarship Fund at the University of the South, the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC; or the Tennessee Aviation Museum in Sevierville, Tennessee. Another option is to take someone who has never flown before up in an airplane.

Sharing his enthusiasm for and knowledge of flying was Bill’s greatest joy.


Awards and Honors include:

1970--Tennessee Ninety-Nines Award
1977--Flying Physicians—Airman of the Year.
1980—Alpha Eta Rho—International Aviation Fraternity Award.
1992—General Aviation/FAA—National Instructor of the Year.
1993—GE Lecturer at Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
1994—Award of Merit from the Ninety-Nine Organization.
1996—Civil Aviation Medical Association— Forrest M. Bird Award.
1997—Elder Statesman of Aviation.
1998—Flight Instructor Hall of Fame, Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
1999—Quick-Goethert lecturer at the University of Tennessee Space Institute.
2001--Honorary Doctor of Science from University of the South, Sewanee, TN.
2002--Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame, Sevierville, TN

ASA's Willliam Kershner's Author Page