Fred Immen ‘flew West’

It is with deep sadness that we were told of the passing of Fred Immen. He passed away on July 13 after a bacterial staph infection took him down a week prior. During that week of bed rest, he talked often of his love of flying and how all he wanted to do was to get into his plane and fly away. He passed peacefully with his family at his side proud to be the oldest family member in recorded history (92 11/12 years). We hope his spirit is now flying free, soaring through the high heavens where there are no FAA regulations or nasty weather conditions to ground his aircraft. During his life flying was his breath and solace, a time to soar above the bounds of earth and feel free.

His daughter shared a little of his history, as he didn’t share too much with us, as was his bent.

“I was always so astounded and impressed with his aviation history and flying abilities up to the last time he flew in June. He was always humble about his experiences and accolades in the aviation field. You may only remember him as a tough old bird and not very personable, that was just his façade – he was a very intelligent, solemn man with great integrity, thorough thinking abilities and humility. But, if you got him talking, he would share his knowledge and learning experiences freely. As I have been going through his papers and work history I am finding out even more about this amazing man. We lived together for 12 years and although I got some stories out of him, there was much he never thought to brag about, though he certainly could have. When he was a young lad his mother took him to see a barnstormer; he fell in love with planes then and there. Only 17 when he joined the Navy and learned to fly in a Stearman bi-plane, he could fly before he could drive. He went on to fly a total of 39 types of aircraft! Although the war ended before he was finished his training, he was proud to have been an active serviceman on D-Day. He was given the option of continuing his full time service or to go into the reserves and receive a full ride to finish his structural engineering degree from Cornell University (he had taken a leave from college to join the war effort). He opted for the Navy reserve where he spent the next 20+ years steadily moving up to become lieutenant commander of an elite helicopter squadron. He was hired by Boeing right out of college and became one of original designers of the B52 bomber. Eventually he moved on to helicopter design. When the government approached Boeing looking for top engineers, dad was hired away to work as a civilian for the Army’s aviation sector. He was awarded several aviation awards; the one he was most proud of being the FAA’s Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” award.

“Dad was a long time member of the EAA, always joining the nearest chapter to where he lived. He so enjoyed being an active member and always looked forward to the various events: fly-ins, meetings, air shows and in particular the Young Eagles. He not only wanted his own children to love aviation, but also all children. In his quiet way he always tried to be of help and support. Thank you for welcoming him into your group and giving him a place to share and be surrounded by other aviation enthusiasts.”

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