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NAFI Mourns Loss Of Bill Kershner

January 11, 2007 - William K. Kershner, an icon in the world of flight instruction, took off for the final time January 8 after a prolonged bout with cancer. He was 77. Pilot, flight instructor, author, and long-time NAFI member, he authored a series of books that sold more than a million copies. He was inducted into the Flight Instructors Hall of Fame at Oshkosh in 1998.

“Every NAFI member will feel great loss because of Bill Kershner’s passing,” said NAFI Executive Director Rusty Sachs. “Bill was among the true icons of aviation education, and one of the most loyal and generous members of our association.”

Bill was born and raised in Clarksville, Tennessee, where he started flying at 15. He worked as line boy to obtain his private, commercial, and flight instructor certificates and went on to acquire instrument and airline transport pilot ratings. Over the years Bill logged more than 11,000 hours including more than 4,300 hours of aerobatic instruction.

Bill graduated from Iowa State University in 1960 with a degree in technical journalism. He wrote The Student Pilot’s Flight Manual while still in school, then went on to pen The Advanced Pilot’s Flight Manual, The Instrument Flight Manual, and The Flight Instructor’s Manual. Another book, Logging Flight Time, is a collection of articles covering 61 years of flying. His writings also appeared in many aviation magazines.

After relocating to Sewanee, Tennessee in 1964, Bill flew charter flights, instructed, and operated an aerobatic and advanced instruction school with more than 500 students completing his course in “defensive flying.”

He is survived by his wife, Betty Kershner; daughter, Cindy Kershner and her husband Mark Manz; and son Bill Kershner and his wife Donna.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the William and Elizabeth Kershner Scholarship Fund at the University of the South; the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC; or the Tennessee Aviation Museum in Sevierville, Tennessee.

Another option: take someone who has never flown before up in an airplane. Sharing his enthusiasm for and knowledge of flying was Bill’s greatest joy.

His awards and honors include:
1970—Tennessee Ninety-Nines Award
1977—Flying Physicians—Airman of the Year.
1980—Alpha Eta Rho—International Aviation Fraternity Award.
1992—General Aviation/FAA—National Instructor of the Year.
1993—GE Lecturer at Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
1994—Award of Merit from the Ninety-Nine Organization.
1996—Civil Aviation Medical Association—Forrest M. Bird Award.
1997—Elder Statesman of Aviation.
1998—Flight Instructor Hall of Fame, Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
1999—Quick-Goethert lecturer at the University of Tennessee Space Institute.
2001—Honorary Doctor of Science from University of the South, Sewanee, TN.
2002—Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame, Sevierville, TN