Honoring the Last Flight of James A. Richmond, Combat Pilot, FAA Test Pilot and an American Hero

“Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have ever made a difference in the world. A veterans doesn’t have that problem.” — President Ronald Reagan

Lieutenant Colonel James A. Richmond USAF (Ret.) took his “Last Flight” on April 5, 2023, after bravely battling cancer for over five years. During this time, he continued to serve his test pilot community faithfully and proudly as a mentor and leader, a fellow with the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and a Civil Air Patrol volunteer and advocate.

Born into a ranching family in Fredericksburg, Texas, he was a cowboy who always looked to the skies.

He graduated from the USAF Academy in 1964, the USAF Test Pilot School in 1971, and shortly thereafter was stationed overseas where he was shot down during a mission in the Vietnam War. For his courage during his missions, he was awarded several medals, including the Purple Heart. During his time in the Air Force, he also served as an attaché in Rangoon, Burma (Yangon, Myanmar) before finishing his Air Force career at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After retiring from the Air Force, he continued to serve as a test pilot with the Federal Aviation Administration until 2015. During his time with the FAA, he took on many roles and responsibilities, including working with the United Nations Development Programme in Indonesia and as part of the United States’ reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. Jim was awarded the Collier Trophy in 1986 as part of the Voyager Around the World Team and the Wright Master Pilot Award in 2014. After retirement he couldn’t stop doing what he loved and continued to consult on aviation safety, sometimes from a hospital bed while receiving cancer treatment.

Jim’s life centered around faith, family and country.

He loved life, travel and adventure and could often be found planning his next trip to scuba with sharks in South Africa, skiing with his family in Alaska, or catching up on the latest National Geographic from his leather chair in Fredericksburg, Texas. After losing the ability to eat he decided to become the family’s gourmet chef, always in search of the next great recipe. After losing the ability to speak, he took on the roll as the family’s historian and spent countless hours writing down both his own and his ancestor’s stories. He is the ultimate vision of hope, strength, and love.

Please watch the military tribute to Jim and Pat at Arlington National Cemetery on August 21st, 2023:


He is survived by his wife Patricia of 54 years, daughter Laura, daughters Jennifer and Amanda, 5 grandsons, Leif, Finn, Liam, August and Bodhi, brother Jule Richmond, sister Alma Sue Richmond and many beloved nieces and nephews. They know he continues to fly and has now earned his own wings in Heaven.

©2023. Dr. Rich Swier, LTC, U.S. Army (Ret.). All rights reserved.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *