In Memory of Art Scholl
It was a calm morning in Fremont California in 1970 at the Sky Sailing Airport, when I saw the flying expertise of Arthur Everett Scholl. His plane, a Pitts Special Aerobatic Biplane N13AS was polished and a sight to see. The paint was red, white, and blue; just impeccable colors!
I walked up to Art in the airplane staging area, he smiled, and was very friendly. I got to meet him and shake his hand. WOW! I was so excited! He was dressed like an astronaut in a pilot jumpsuit. I asked him for his autograph and he had nothing to write on so he grabbed my Flight Log Book and signed away. I was about 15 years old at the time, and I had my glider Student Pilots License. You can solo in a glider or sail plane per the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) after extensive flight training as early as 14 years of age. Back in 1970, I used to fly gliders on the weekends soaring above Fremont, California.
Mr. Art Scholl had a tremendous list of accomplishments including flight instructor, aerial pilot, commercial pilot, aircraft mechanic, member of the United States Aerobatic Team, pilot and race contestant at the Reno Air Races, also an aerial cameraman. Art often flew with his dog during aerobatic maneuvers and airshows named Aileron. That dog logged many hours in the cockpit, and loved to fly just like Art.
15 years after my autograph experience in Fremont, which also happened to be during the filming of a movie called “Top Gun,” Art died. It was an aviation accident that took his life on September 16, 1985. He was 53 years old. His aircraft, a Pitts Special (S-2 camera plane) went into a spin and fell into the Pacific Ocean. Scholl was performing an upside down spin off the coast of California, northern San Diego County. He was attempting to get footage for this movie. In speculation, the footage could have been used in the scene of Goose’ accidental malfunction. Top Gun, was dedicated to Art Scholl who lost his life during the filming of the movie. The aircraft wreckage in the Pacific Ocean was never found.
This wasn’t his first movie as an aerial and acrobatic pilot. Art was also involved with others films including “The Right Stuff,” “Blue Thunder,” “Chips,” and “The Great Waldo Pepper.” In fact, he appeared and worked in over 200 movies. He operated Art Scholl Aviation, a flight school, aerobatic school, and an aircraft rental facility in Southern California. Many reports came in saying that the crash into the Pacific Ocean was due to mechanical failure. I believe it was a mechanical issue as well, as he was a very experienced pilot, one of the best stunt pilots in Hollywood, and in the world.
I understand one of his aircraft he used frequently with aerobatic maneuvers and airshows, is now located at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. That aircraft is called a De Havilland Super Chipmunk N13Y. So look it up if you get a chance at their website online, or better yet, visit the museum. This museum has an array of flying exhibits, including the Neil Armstrong spacesuit, and Apollo Missions exhibits.
I can speak for thousands of fans, thank you Mr. Art Scholl for the countless memories. May God bless Art Scholl and his entire family.