William L Welde (LtCol USAF, Ret) “Headed West” on Saturday, April 18, 2020.

Let Your Wings Take Flight

Bill, as he liked to be called, was born in Dayton, Ohio where he lived until he joined the Air Force after graduating from Miami University of Ohio.  Bill always had a desire to fly fighter jets and set his life course to do just that.  He joined the US Air Force after graduation and spent 1956 to 1957 in pilot training.  After pilot training he was assigned to the 9th Bomb Wing in Mountain Home, Idaho from 1958 to 1961 and, then, transitioned out of the US Air Force and returned to Dayton.  He joined the 160th Air Refueling Group Ohio Air National Guard. But his desire to fly single-seat fighter jets was so strong that after a year Bill transferred to the 162nd Tactical Fighter Squadron in the Ohio Air National Guard in Springfield, Ohio from which he retired after 23 years.  Bill believed he was a lucky guy to have had the chance to fly three fighter aircraft: the F84F, F-100/D/F, and the A-7D in his 23 years of flying in the Guard.  In 1973, he was awarded the Outstanding Fighter Pilot of the Year from the 162nd TFS.

Bill also served as Commander of the 178 Tactical Fighter Group Command Post for seven years during his time in the Ohio Air National Guard. His solid decision making and leadership resulted in Outstanding Evaluations during ORI’s which attests to his ability to provide strong and clear direction of his responsibilities and that of his crew.  Bill maintained Combat Ready Status during his tenure and was always at the top of the list of “Top Gun” in State and Squadron gunner competition. Bill retired from the Guard in 1982 as a Lt. Colonel / Command Pilot.  He received the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal that same year.

The Guard was not Bill’s primary employment. Although it was what he loved to do on a part-time basis. Bill was employed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. While working at Wright Patterson full time and flying in the Air National Guard part-time, Bill went back to school and obtained a Master’s Degree in Experimental Psychology.  He retired from the Armstrong Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory with a GS-14 rating and 33 years of service.

Bill was an exceptional and accomplished pilot.  One may think Bill had enough flying for one individual after retiring from the Guard; he did not.  He decided to join the Wright Patterson Air Force Base Aero Club.  Besides renting airplanes for personal use, Bill served as a Certified Flight Instructor for Private, Instrument, Commercial, and CFI ratings for 16 years. Many of his students were young officers in the Air Force who upon receiving their private pilot license went on to fly for the Air Force.  He taught his young pilots to always fly by the numbers.  In 1995 Bill was the proud recipient of the General Aviation Flight Instructor of the Year award, being selected from approximately 700 Certified Flight Instructors in the three-state area including Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

Florida was always in Bill’s plan as a place to retire; a desire he developed when he was stationed in Bartow, Florida for pilot training. Vacations often involved visiting different areas of Florida.  His plan to move to Florida stalled because he still enjoyed flying and instructing in the Aero Club.  His alternative was to find a position in Florida where he could continue flying and instructing student pilots.  One winter, while vacationing in Sarasota, Bill visited Cirrus Aviation at the Sarasota Bradenton Airport. If he could get a position with Cirrus Aviation as an instructor, he could have the best of both worlds: continue flying and live in Florida.  Bill did what he set out to do and served as Chief Pilot at Cirrus from 2005-2007.

Bill led a full and rewarding life.  He truly believed that if you enjoy what you are doing you’ll never work a day in your life.  He also believed in giving back. He was a Guardian Ad Litem in Manatee County at one time; President and/or board member of Millbrook Homeowners Association for several years; he also found time to ranger at one of our local golf courses for a year.

Bill was a friendly guy.  He always introduced himself to new neighbors and welcomed them into the neighborhood.  He will be missed by his family and the many acquaintances he has had over the years.  He was a devoted husband and a kind and caring father; a good friend and a gentle person.  He will truly be missed by his family and friends.

Information provided by Bill’s wife Dianne.

Graveside Services with Military Honors will be held at a later date. Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory 26th Street Chapel in charge. Condolences to www.brownandsonsfuneral.com

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