Watson T. Babbitt- Special Achievement Award in 1991
"Slim" Babitt was born on August 25, 1910 in Denver. During his high school days, he learned much of his mechanical skills, keeping his motorcycle in operation between jobs as a telegram delivery boy.
His mentors in aviation were Colonel Carlos Reavis and Captain Charles France, both Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame inductees. Slim soloed in 1928 when he was 18 years old. He later received his A&P license, which he kept up all his life. He started flying for King Aerial Surveys in Denver. In two years he flew aerial mapping over parts of 35 states. He was a member of the Colorado National Guard for three years, and at one time, had a neon sign attached to the bottom of his plane, which he flew nights over Denver and Park Hill.
In 1935, he was the pilot for Wendell Wilkie, a Republican presidential aspirant. Capt. France hired Slim as a pilot for Western Air Express, where he worked for a year. When France left Western Air Express to become Operations Manager of Eastern Air Transport, later Eastern Airlines, he asked Slim to accompany him as a mechanic and instrument technician until an opening came up as a pilot. In January 1936 he started as a pilot with Eastern making him number one on Easternís seniority list. Much of Slim's early flying was in the DC-3 airplane. His logbook shows over 50 hours in Easternís #340, which now hangs in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
Slim fitted in well, and with his intellect and great humor, he became a spirited leader with the pilot fraternity. He spearheaded, with others, the first Eastern Airlines pilot contract in 1941. While a line Captain for Eastern Airlines he became a very active member of the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA). He served in many ALPA positions, including Regional Vice President and negotiating committee member. He also became well known as a writer for the Airline and Pilots Association (ALPA) magazine, The Airline Pilot. His humor was evident in many of his articles.
In 1942 during WWII, he was assigned to the Military Transportation Division of Eastern Airlines. He remained there throughout the war. After the war, he continued to fly for Eastern. Near the end of his career, his Boeing 720 plane was hijacked to Cuba, with no loss of life.
He retired in 1970, after which he became very involved with real estate and the Boy Scouts. For many years, he was active in the QBs, the OX5 Fraternity and the Retired Eastern Pilots Association.
Slim Babbitt passed way in 1986.