Russell Holderman
Russell Holderman
World War I Combat Pilots Reunion
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, 1961
Embry-Riddle University, 1974
EB CHIRP, January 1975

     Graduation ceremonies for 280 students receiving degrees from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University were held the 23rd of August, 1974 in the courtyard of the student residence. Honorary degrees were conferred upon Russell F. Holderman and Edward W. Simpson, who was the guest speaker for the occasion.
     Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is located in Daytona Beach, Florida. The degree conferred upon Holderman is Doctor of Aeronautical Science.
     Reminiscing about his career in aviation, Russell remembered how it felt the first time he flew an airplane.
     That was back in 1913, when he was 18 and his flight in a Curtiss biplane covered only about 200 yards.
     Holderman said that he dropped out of high school because of his interest in aeronautics and because he "wasn't interested in geometry and all that." So he considered it "quite a feat" that he was chosen for an honorary degree.
     Holderman became interested in flying "as a kid when the Wright Brothers first flew." He clipped articles about them from newspapers and put them in a scrapbook.
     His only injury in his flying career--which totaled 260,000 hours of logged time when he retired--came in one of his glider flights. He said he came down too steeply, breaking his collar bone and three ribs.
     He gave up his pilot's license about a year and a half ago because he was getting a cataract. He said "I completed 60 years and that was enough."
     His scrapbook contains newspaper clippings, photographs and awards covering a 60-year career in aviation that included being a stunt pilot, early air mail pilot, World War I and World War II flying instructor, flying school and airport manager and chief pilot for the Gannett Co. for 26 years. His honors include the Curtiss Trophy for an air race in Miami, a world's loop record for a glider, and selection to the Aviation Hall of Fame.
     The citation for Holderman's honorary degree reads, "Mr. Russell Holderman, you early-on made known that you didn't want to be the most spectacular pilot--just the oldest--and you did both.
     Now when the question is asked, "Is there a doctor in the house?", Russ can stand up.
From The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP
January 1975, Number 81

     If you search for "Russell Holderman", using the Google search engine, (9-8-04), you will find about 25 links. Perhaps the most helpful are the following from Lynne Belluscio.
LeRoy Pennysaver
Trying to Stay Cool
by Lynne Belluscio
     You will find Russell mentioned in this story of a particularly hot and dry summer in 1936 in Leroy, NY. The story is amusing and offers a glimpse into one episode in Russell's career. You may access the page by clicking on the title above.
LeRoy Pennysaver
The First Air Mail Service in Le Roy
by Lynne Belluscio
     You will find only a brief mention of Russell Holderman's role in this event. However, the story itself is sufficiently interesting to be well worth your time. You can access this page by clicking on the site above.
LeRoy Pennysaver
April 4, 2004
Pilot's Wings
by Lynne Belluscio
     In this story, Lynne features his interest and exploits in gliders. Both he and his wife were avid glider pilots. Included is a beautiful, large photograph of Russ in one of his gliders. You can access the page by clicking on the title above.
Author's Note: This story about Russ was part of an April Fool's Day spoof that I have been writing for the past 15 years, so the story about him flying the flamingoes up to LeRoy is bogus. A lot of the article is true, but the story about the flamingoes isn't . Sorry about that. It did make a great story though. - - And it sounds like something he'd do
Lynne Belluscio, 9-9-04

Today, (2-14-01), I received a phone call from Lynne Belluscio. She told me that she has a wealth of material on Russ and many other of the early flyers and personalities. She plans to send some of it to me for addition to my Holderman page. In addition, she has offered to make it available to other researchers. She invites you to contact her at:
Le Roy Pennysaver
29 Main Street.
Le Roy, NY
Phone: 768-7433


Before Amelia
The Triumph of
Instrument Flight

A Retrospective in a Century of U.S. Aviation
Franklyn E. Dailey, Jr.
Product Details
Cloth: 335 pages 6 x 9"
List Price: $18.95
Direct from Publisher: $15.00 plus $2.25 S&H:
Massachusetts residents add $.75
ISBN: 0966625137
  Author's notes: August 6, 2004-The Wright brothers made their first flight in 1903. Their contribution was enduring. Their airframe, controls and power plant became the model for powered flight. The author's first flying experience took place in 1929. The record-making flight events of 1929-1931 demonstrated that the airplane had gone well beyond the novelty stage to reliable performance. Its utility for the transport of passengers who needed ontime departures and arrivals had not yet been achieved. The early airlines transferred their passengers to the train at the approach of nightfall. Pilot and aircraft were not yet able to challenge the weather. The book then focuses attention on the years 1932-1935 when the necessary elements for intrument flying were recognized (the flight instrument technology had existed unrecognized since 1929), configured into aircraft and into ground installations, and were accepted by pilots qualified to put them to use.
     Relative to Russell Holderman. I had some paragraphs about him in my book that to me add much luster to his career. I was particularly interested in the 260,000 flight hours credited to him in your writeup. My book chronicles a business success that was made possible in part by those flight hours. You are free to put that into your writeup about Holderman or more simply link his writeup to my website as you did with Ray Hylan. The crux of it is that Frank Gannett's expansion beyond a couple of dailies in Rochester would never have occurred without the Lockheed Lodestar he bought and in which he installed Holderman as his chief pilot. Since Holderman had already been the planning genius behind Donald Woodward's very early (1927, way ahead of Hylan and Rochester) unrivalled airport in Leroy NY I suspect that Holderman might have put the bug in Gannett's ear. It is clear that the empire now headed by USA Today owes a lot to Russell Holderman and I do not believe any or many have tumbled to that.
Editor's Note: More details about the book, including the Table of Contents, and about the author can be had from the official website. You can access it by clicking on:
The Triumph of Instrument Flight

Russell Holderman died in 1981
From The Early Birds of Aviation
Roster of Members, 1996

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