M.273 First Officer  Frank Pope Skillen 
 flag usa b. 5 Oct 1908, Jacksonville, FL   3 Dec 1940 to 2 Dec 1941

 

     

 

b. Frank Pope Hawkins, adopted by George A Skillen in 1922

(Step)Father: George Armstrong Skillen, a painting contractor; Mother: Julia S [Pope]

Ed. Riverside Military Academy, Gainsville, GA

prev. Private First Class, US Marine Corps VS3MR Scouting Squadron 1932-36; Instructor, Pilot (Charter work - Magis City Flying Service), Aviation Mechanic

prev. exp. 824 hrs

m. 24 Jan 1931 in Florida, Dorothy [Maxwell] (divorced 1935)

m. 1 Feb 1936 in Florida, Helen Marie [Sybilrud] (one son, Frank Jr b. 1944)

Address in 1940: 1115 Florida Ave, W Palm Beach, FL

Frank's Draft Card, dated 16 Oct 1940


 Postings: 4FPP, 3FPP

 4 accidents, 1 his fault:

- 5 Mar 1941, an undercarriage problem with his Fairey Battle P6758

- 22 May 1941, commended for a forced landing after engine failure in Audax K7342

- 9 Jul 1941, taxying 'without due care' in Spitfire R7216 at Peterhead in a high tailwind, stick back and nobody on the tail

- 12 Aug 1941, an incident in a Tomahawk AK154 (insufficient evidence to allocate blame)

 

"A very keen and sound pilot. Has done well in this Pool"


After ATA, sailed back to the USA on 19 Dec 1941 with fellow ATA pilots W Hanks, Ruby Garrett, P Lowman, J R Holloway, G C Shreve, S C Neville, G R Heintz, and Franklyn Rule Mershon. 

 Helen went to Detroit in April 1942 to join Frank, who was stationed there with the "USAC Ferry Command"

Frank and Tech. Sgt. Jesse Bowling had a narrow escape in October 1942 when their twin-engine bomber, having taken off from Greenland, developed a port engine fire and they had to ditch in the icy sea. They swam 100 ft to an ice floe and Bowling, who got there first, pulled Frank on. He later said, "I never could have got out myself."

They paddled for two hours (using a seat from the plane) and then spent 9 hours waiting for rescue, finally being spotted after they spelt out 'HELP' with letters torn from a parachute. They then spent 5 days in hospital. - Kansas City Times, 28 Sep 1943

 "He flew 187 missions in the China-Burma-India, Asiatic, and European Theaters of Operation" - Palm Beach Post, 1951

Assigned to Military Air Transport Group, of Air Transport Command's Ferrying Division at Fort Dix Army Base in 1945. "He spent 20 months overseas, and from his combat record has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal." - Miami Herald, 26 Aug 1945

The Air Medal was for "150 hrs of operational flight in transport aircraft over the dangerous and difficult India-China air routes". - Palm Beach Post, Mar 1945

Later, an instructor at Bartow Air Base

 Moved to Winter Haven from Palm Beach in 1952

Helen d. 1993

d. 17 Nov 1994 - Winter Haven, Polk Co., FL

  Lakeside Memorial ParkWinter HavenPolk CountyFlorida


Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):download grey

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