Memorial Slated for Aviation Pioneer Jim Dewey

A memorial service for pioneer aviator Jim Dewey will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Santa Paula Airport.

Dewey, a Santa Paula resident since 1953, died March 7 in a Thousand Oaks hospital after a heart attack. He was 81.

A self-taught flier who picked up his skills as a barnstormer during the Depression, Dewey had many aviation honors to his credit. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal for his World War II service in the China-Burma theater and was a founding member of the Experimental Aircraft Assn.

Until his retirement in 1966, he worked for the Federal Aviation Administration. But he made a more lasting mark in the aviation world after his retirement, when he became known for restoring vintage aircraft. He led the effort to create a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis for the San Diego Aerospace Museum and restored a World War II-era Boeing F4-B3 for the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Va., according to his son, Mike Dewey.


Many of his restorations--all of which are in shape to fly--are in private collections throughout the United States, his son said.

Antique airplanes will form a cross aloft during the memorial service at the Santa Paula Airport’s Screaming Eagle Aviation Hangars. Several aviation luminaries are to speak, including Tony LeVier, retired chief of flight operations for Lockheed Corp., and Bob Phelps, the FAA operations chief at Van Nuys Airport.

In addition to his son Mike, Dewey is survived by his wife, Gwen; a daughter, Sue Harding of Ojai, and another son, Richard of Portland, Ore.