Wills wins national EAA award

Published 10:13 am Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Cumberland County resident and aviator Dr. James “Jim” Wills recently received the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) Major Achievement Award for his work, dedication and service to the organization and recreational aviation in the community.

The retired radiologist from Southside Community Hospital was only one of five people in the nation to receive such award.

Wills was nominated by fellow aviator Richard O. “Dick” Carden, also of Cumberland.

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The award was announced during the EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh 2015 event held in Wisconsin.

Wills said he was “very gratified” to receive the award. “A lot of folks have done a lot more than I have,” he said.

Wills, who an active pilot at the Farmville Municipal Airport in Cumberland, has been flying for over 35 years.

“I can name at least a half-dozen pilots who have more experience than I and have done far more to promote and advance aviation. I guess my task now is to try to live up to it,” he said.

According to Carden’s nomination letter, Wills joined the EAA in West Virginia in 1981.

“His EAA chapter dedication and service began in earnest following his retirement … With additional available time, he began working to improve communications for both the [Farmville] chapter and its members,” Carden said. “The Chapter, which meets at the Farmville Regional Airport, had wi-fi capability only in the terminal building. Jim, working with the service provider, put up a new antenna that makes it possible for members to connect to the Internet from every hangar at the airport.”

Wills, Carden said, also created and maintains a website for the chapter. “He also uses it to provide the chapter and the public with ongoing information about efforts to help the airport realize its potential as an asset in attracting new industry to the area,” Carden said.

He described Wills as one of the chapter’s most dependable Young Eagle pilots. “An enthusiastic pilot, he leaves Young Eagles excited about aviation.”

Wills’ service to the local aviation community “can hardly be overstated,” Carden said. “Enter Jim and four other pilots who formed the Friends of the Farmville Airport (FOFA), an organization whose sole purpose is aimed at revitalization of the airport so that it would serve not only the local aviation community, but would become a vibrant and vital facility attractive to those being wooed by local industrial development officials.”

Wills helps new chapter members find a home for their planes, Carden said.

“It would be impossible to overstate the value of his service to the aviation community,” he said.