Major F. Paul "Pablo" Bennett
Major F. Paul "Pablo" Bennett, a social force of nature, decorated Korean War veteran, distinguished jet fighter pilot and aviation pioneer, died peacefully July 10, 2012, at his family farm in Carrollton, with his wife, Kim; friend, John; and loving canine companion, Belle, by his side.
Born Oct. 16, 1932, in Alliance, he was a son of Esther Heidman Bennett and Dr. Francis Paul Bennett.
He graduated with the class of '49 from Culver Military Academy, of which he spoke fondly of the discipline, leadership and acrobatics he learned with the Black Horse Troop.
Attending Dennison University he met Marjorie Bangs Harbaugh, the mother of his children. Bit by the passion to fly, he enlisted in the United States Air Force in the Korean War where he flew combat missions in the 51st Wing of the 39th Fighter Inceptor Group, later serving in Japan. In the Air Defense Command in Sioux City, IO, he survived a midair collision. He flew in the Washington and Wyoming Air National Guard.
After completing his degree at the University of Colorado in Aeronautical Engineering, he moved to Seattle, WA, to embark on a 34-year career with the Boeing Company. He traveled the world as a "pilot's pilot" training flight crews and in experimental flight tests.
He loved to test fighter jets. Highlights include: chief test pilot for Air Force One and flying the Dash 80 to the Museum of Flight (after the plane sat in the desert 18 years.) His happy-go-lucky antics thrilled thousands in air shows with his daring acrobatics in the F-86.
He retired to a life of boating with wife, Kim, friends, children and grandchildren. He spent his later years at his beloved "Happy Hills" in Carrollton, living next to his brother Bill, where many a bonfire, pig roast, canon firing, trail riding, bawdy song fests, storytelling and moon howling occurred (pianos beware). He was "the world's greatest test pilot" with an infectious smile and zest for life.
He is survived by his wife, Kim; sisters, Jo Lea Rice (Charles, children, Ted, Karen, Chuck, and Lizz) and Letty Plikerd (A.J., children, Eric, Laura, and Amy Jo); and his children, Robin Bennett (Scott MacDonald, children, Colin, Evan, and Maren), Kristin Bennett (Scott Vandenberg, children, Emelyn and Abigail; and D. Paul "Pablem" Bennett (Shauna, children Marlee and Allison).
He was preceded in death by his brother, William Bennett, (children, Charles, James and Thomas).
A Celebration of Life was held July 28 at the Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA, with a graveside military 21 gun salute ceremony at Scott Cemetery, Antigua Rd. (CR 11), Monroe Twp., Carrollton, and Ranch Rd. Aug. 25 at 2 p.m. Following the ceremony, a small gathering will be held at 2225 Scroll Rd., SW, Carrollton. The family is grateful for remembrances in his name to Culver Academies, Black Horse Troop (www.culver.org).
Local arrangements were handled by Allmon Dugger Cotton Funeral Home.