Aviation Community Mourns Loss Of David Lee "Tex" Hill
October 12, 2007 — The aviation community lost a true hero and legend this week as David Lee "Tex" Hill, a member of the American Volunteer Group, commonly known as the Flying Tigers, passed away on Thursday afternoon, October 11, in Terrell Hills (near San Antonio), Texas. He was 92.
Hill, EAA 773186, and a member of EAA's Warbirds of America, was an immensely popular presenter at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, as well as an enthusiastic supporter and participant in the EAA Warbirds in Review Program. His presentations were routinely standing room only as he retold personal stories of the Flying Tigers, volunteer pilots who flew the shark-faced Curtiss P-40 Warhawks defending China and Southeast Asia against invading Japanese forces. John Wayne immortalized Hill in the 1942 film, "The Flying Tigers."
Flying Tiger pilots were credited with destroying almost 300 enemy aircraft while losing just 12. Hill was personally credited with 18 1/4 kills.
Hill was a 3,500-hour pilot with 150 combat sorties. After the war he test-flew military jets then joined the Texas Air National Guard and became its youngest ever brigadier general. A recipient of numerous military honors and medals, Hill was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2006.
Soon after his passing, Tex's longtime friend, Tibaut Bowman, sent an e-mail relaying the sad news: "Tex passed away about 10 minutes ago" Bowman wrote. "He traded in his P-40 wings for some everlasting ones. God bless Tex Hill and God bless America."