BATESVILLE — Jim Mahle always had a passion for flying, and “his heart has always been with the pioneers of aviation,” reported wife Mary Jo Mahle.
“Jim (who passed away in February) wanted to enjoy life, and every day was a gift.”
On Sept. 27, friends gathered at the Batesville Memorial Public Library to present a gift to him and his family with the dedication of the Jim Mahle Memorial Aviation Collection.
Thanks to an anonymous donor, a plaque was created by Tim Weberding that captured Mahle’s image and the hobby he loved. Its inscription says, “No one believed more fervently in the honor of our Armed Forces and the need to support our veterans.
Jim believed in learning from history and giving this education to our children. He made many efforts for this belief. Above all, he believed in family and loyalty to friends.”
Mary Jo Mahle recalled, “Building model airplanes and joining the Civil Air Patrol were his most important interests as he grew up. After his formal schooling, he worked at a U.S. post office to pay for his flying lessons. Jim received a commendation from the postal service for stopping a robbery on his mail route in 1958.
“His first job in aviation was at Skyways Inc., where he flew charters and also taught flying lessons. He worked as a co-pilot for a company in Chicago for a year and a half before taking a job with Hillenbrand Industries in 1963. He flew with ‘Chan’ Godfrey, a World War II veteran who was chief pilot and a member of the 352nd Fighter Squadron, to which the Aviation Section at the library was dedicated.
“Hillenbrand Aviation saw many changes and growth in the 39 years that Jim was employed there.” During that time, Jim and Mary Jo were married and had two children, Rob and Sara. “His family became his first love, but aviation was a close second,” she revealed.